U.S. spending on cancer therapies has risen sharply in recent years. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed data on drug pricing from 61 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers to determine how much U.S. hospitals mark up the price of cancer therapies for patients with private health insurance.
The team conducted a cross-sectional study of the 25 most common injectable or infusible cancer therapies. The researchers report more than half of cancer centers did not publicly disclose payer-specific prices, despite federal regulation requirements. Among those that did, many substantially marked up drug prices for patients with private insurance, and markups ranged from approximately 120 percent to 630 percent of the cost for the hospital to acquire the drug. They also found that negotiated prices varied between payers even at the same cancer center.
“Our study indicates that there is both significant markup and variation in negotiated prices for cancer therapies. Policy changes may be helpful to prevent excessive hospital price markups and reduce the financial burden of cancer treatment for patients,” said corresponding author Roy Xiao, MD, MS, a resident in the Harvard Medical School/Mass Eye and Ear/Mass General Brigham Residency Program in Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.