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Nowadays it becomes more and more difficult to cope with the constant growth of prices for medications. Despite the rapid development of medicine and the emergence of new drugs, few people are able to profit from them, mainly because of high prices. Therefore, many patients sell everything they can to get the hope for recovery or relief. Often the controversy is whether that price is worth its value or not. One of the most terrible diseases nowadays is cancer. Many people die because they discover the tumors very late. When people are informed about their condition, they are ready to do anything and to pay any money to have a chance to survive.
This problem is widely discussed and analyzed in the article “Costly Cancer Drug Offers Hope, but Also a Dilemma” written by Gina Kolata and Andrew Pollack and posted in New York Times. In the article, the authors give a report of a research study of the use of Avastin, a cancer drug. Usage of Avastin causes many disputes. The correlation of value and price worries many doctors, who consider it their duty to warn patients about vain hopes concerning the aid of Avastin. “It’s not a slam dunk and, in fact, the incremental benefit may be more modest than we want to admit” (Kolata & Pollack).buy an essay
The company Genentech started the development of a new medicine in the 1990s. Dr Napoleone Ferrara claimed that “tumors must grow their own blood vessels to bring them nourishment and oxygen” (Kolata & Pollack). The main aim of the doctor and his colleagues was to find a way to prevent tumors from growing these cells, in other words to develop an antibody that would stop this function of tumors. This antibody got the name Avastin and started being tested in 1997.
Giving the results of statistical researches carried out by IMS Health, the authors of the article state that cancer drugs are among the most needed drugs in the United States, being at the second place after cholesterol-lowering drugs. It also explains the popularity of Avastin, which “has become one of the most popular cancer drugs in the world, with sales last year of about $3.5 billion, $2.3 billion of that in the United States” (Kolata & Pollack). Despite its high cost, from $ 4 000 to $ 9 000 per month depending on the weight and type of cancer, Avastin is largely bought.
What causes the major disputes is that usage of Avastin prolongs life of terminal patients only for several months. Beside its benefit is proved only for patients with lung, colon or breast cancer. The authors cite opinions of different professionals from all over America, concerning the use of Avastin and its price. All of them agree that Avastin helps, however, many of them support the idea that prices for Avestin are excessively high. It is necessary to take into account that the price established by Genentech might be increased if the drug is sold by doctors or medical organizations.
Therefore, we see that Avastin gives a great hope for ill people but does not fully live up to their expectations. Gina Kolata and Andrew Pollack tell stories of different people who take Avastin, spend all their savings and do not want to refuse from it. “All patients want to be the tail end of the survival curve,” Dr Schrag says (Kolata & Pollack). Even if the medical bills have to be paid by insurance companies, very often, the insurers make the client pay a part of the sum. For example, Mr Lemieux, a sales manager having colon cancer, had to sell his house to be able to pay his bills, in spite of payments from his insurance company. “I’m trying to stay alive. I decided I’m not going to die from Stage 4 colon cancer” (Kolata & Pollack).
It is apparent that Avastin is used mainly at late stages of cancer, while its action at first stage is quiet unstudied. “Genentech says it and Roche — which owns a majority of Genentech and markets Avastin outside the United States — will spend an additional $1 billion testing Avastin as a treatment for early-stage cancers” (Kolata & Pollack).
Nevertheless, the question remains open. Is Avastin worth the reputation of an effective cancer drug or is it a vain hope for ill people? The authors of the article give a thorough report of the research, proving the judgments by statistics and professionals’ opinions. However, these are doctors and scientists who are in charge of the solution of this problem. For the present, Genentech decided to lower the price for Avestin for those patients who have income less than $ 100, 000 a year.
From my perspective, this problem needs to be thoroughly researched by scientists. On the one hand, no one has the right to bereave people of hope for recovery. When people know about their soon death even several months are precious for them. On the other hand, when they buy these several months for a price of their house, it is a humiliation for them. To make a conclusion, Gina Kolata and Andrew Pollack bring up an important topic, which should worry everybody and should not remain without attention of the society.
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