Prices for new cancer therapies have increased to up to $10,000 a month for a single drug, causing dismay among patients and insurance companies alike.
Cancer drug costs rose nearly 16 percent last year, while other prescription drugs averaged a 3 percent price increase. Avastin, which is used to treat colorectal cancer, currently sells for $50,000, and that price could jump to $100,000 if Avastin is also approved to treat breast and lung cancers.
What's more, these expensive medications often only give patients a few more months of life, making many question whether or not the price tag is worth it. Erbitux costs nearly $10,000 a month, but no studies have shown that it even helps colorectal cancer patients live longer.
The bulk of the cost of these drugs is often handed off to taxpayers, since many cancer patients are covered by Medicare. However, many patients must pay at least part of the costs, and some are turning down care because they cannot afford the expense.
These two important articles from USA Today discuss the personal stories and the financial sacrifices people make to afford a "miracle" cancer drug.
They illustrate very well the standard price-gouging operating procedures used by drug companies: Provide exorbitant drugs that, in no way, shape or form, treat the cause of the problem, and earn billions of dollars for doing so. If patients want access to "life-sustaining" therapies, they'll be forced to pay the price, which in many cases means emptying their bank accounts, even if the drug is useless.
It seems that the more serious and life-threatening the disease, the more expensive the drug solution is. They clearly understand that people will surrender virtually everthing they own to stay alive longer.
Consider, for example, the dilemma of a flight attendant who stopped taking Herceptin because her monthly tab for the drug -- $800 a month even with an employer-sponsored insurance plan -- now exceeds what she pays to rent an apartment in Memphis. Or consider the drug Avastin, which I told you about earlier this year. It's being touted as an "important new treatment" for breast and lung cancers, at the obscene cost of $100,000 a year, even though it may only extend a patient's life by a couple of months.
The very vocal former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell, sums up the situation brilliantly: "It's really exploiting the desperation of people with a life-threatening illness."
Additionally, as soon as a drug company comes out with a more expensive alternative they will heavily promote it to the public and physicians. It is as though all of a sudden the older drugs are virtually worthless even though just a few years previously when they were the new kid on the block they were being heavily promoted as the latest and greatest must-use approach.
A better and safer alternative for you: Eliminating your risks by following a proactive, drug-free approach by following my extensive list of recommendations:
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 fish 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.
11. Boil, poach or steam your foods, rather than frying or charbroiling them.
Save your health and your money. You work too hard to waste either one on "miracle" drugs and cures.