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Abraxane: This New Cancer Drug Costs More Than $4,200 Per DOSE

October 19, 2006 | 9,733 views

Abraxane, a new version of an old cancer drug, has made millions for the company that manufactures it. It doesn't help patients live any longer than the old treatment.

It does, however, cost $4,200 a dose.

Roughly 20,000 people have been treated with Abraxane, and this year's sales should approach $200 million.

Annual sales may reach $1 billion by 2010. The older version, Taxol, has similar effects, and costs 25 times less.

However, Abraxane has been marketed as a last-ditch drug for those who have not had success on other treatments, prompting many to try it in desperation despite the price.

Patients frequently want the newest and most expensive drugs and medical devices, and insurers rarely deny coverage for new treatments on the basis of price. As a result, the cost of health care coverage has been on the rise at a rapid pace. Cancer drugs in particular have undergone giant price increases. Worldwide, spending on cancer drugs is expected to hit $55 billion by 2009.

Taxol itself was initially considered expensive, and its price of $986 a dose led to Congressional hearings.




Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Even in this era of price-gouging miracle drugs, charging a cancer patient $4,200 per dose for what amounts to an older drug in a new bottle is even more extraordinary than Google paying YouTube $1.6 billion.

In case you were not aware of it there is a very specific strategy in place here. Drug companies charge prices that all but a few of the very wealthy can afford. The trick they use is to have your insurance company pay for it, or their main backup is YOU through the federal government and your taxes.

Not many people can or would fork over $4,200 for a dose of the drug. So, you see it is all a very clever scheme to maximize their profits at your expense.

We are paying $2 trillion every year for health care in the United States because of this type of behavior, and it is ruining the American economy. Now, these expenditures would be justified if they were effective and they worked, but the reality is that they don't!

They are an expensive and potentially toxic scam that is used to extort money from desperate people. The real tragedy is that treatments like these are allowed to be promoted by the FDA but omega-3 fats like fish oil and krill oil cannot be.

Although Abraxane may shrink tumors more effectively than its generic counterpart, it simply doesn't improve a patient's odds of survival. To its credit, a slightly tougher FDA did turn down a proposal to permit the use of Abraxane among early-stage breast cancer patients.

A more sensible, safer and less expensive approach than taking an ineffective, exorbitant drug: make some lifestyle changes. The American Cancer Society is as traditional as medical organizations come, but even their conservative researchers now suggest a 62 percent reduction with simple lifestyle changes, including:

  • Eat healthier foods (ideally based on your body's unique nutritional type).
  • Incorporate more exercise in your daily routine.
  • Stop smoking today.
  • Schedule periodic cancer screenings.

But one of the skills my father drilled into me from early childhood was to never settle for second best. Why would you settle for a meager 62 percent reduction? I believe you can VIRTUALLY ELIMINATE your cancer risk if you follow the risk reduction strategies that have not been formally "proven" yet by conservative researchers. Here are the major recommendations I posted last year:

1.      Control your insulin levels: Make certain that you limit your intake of processed foods and sugars as much as possible.

2.      Get appropriate amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats and make sure you use cod liver oil if you don't have regular access to sun exposure.

3.      Get appropriate exercise. One of the primary reasons exercise works is that it drives your insulin levels down. Controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.

4.      Normalize your vitamin D levels with safe amounts of sun exposure. This works primarily by optimizing your vitamin D level. If you have regular access to sun exposure then you should use krill oil, not cod liver oil, as your primary source of omega-3 fats. Ideally, it would be best to monitor your vitamin D levels.

5.      Eat according to your nutritional type. The potent anti-cancer effects of this principle are very much underappreciated. When we treat cancer patients in our clinic this is one of the most powerful anti-cancer strategies we have.

6.      Have a tool to permanently erase the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is caused by emotions. It is likely that this factor may be more important than all the other physical ones listed here, so make sure this is addressed. Energy psychology seems to be one of the best approaches and my particular favorite tool, as you may know, is the Emotional Freedom Technique.

7.      Only 25 percent of people eat enough vegetables, so by all means eat as many vegetables as you are comfortable with. Ideally, they should be fresh and organic. However, please understand that, frequently, fresh conventionally grown vegetables are healthier than organic ones that are older and wilted in the grocery store. They are certainly better than no vegetables at all, so don't use that as an excuse. If you are a carb nutritional type you may need up to 300 percent more vegetables than a protein nutritional type.

8.      Make sure you are not in the two-thirds of the population who are overweight and maintain an ideal body weight.

9.      Get enough high-quality sleep.

10.    Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and air pollution.

11.    Boil, poach or steam your foods, rather than frying or charbroiling them.



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