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Speaking Out About The Cost of Cancer, Doctors Ask For Change

 Dr. Neal J. Meropol, associate director for clinical research at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

When University Hospital's Dr. Neal Meropol first began to see his cancer patients choosing their treatments based on how much they would cost, it wasn't that common.

But now, he says, "we're faced with patients every single day who are having to make decisions about their care based on the costs of their treatment and this is especially true because the amount of costs sharing that now exists with most insurance plans."

Even with insurance, out-of-pocket expenses on cancer drugs go as high as $30,0000 annually, according to a letter signed by Meropol and more than 100 other doctors from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MD Anderson in Texas, the Cleveland Clinic and elsewhere.  

In an editorial that appeared in the Mayo Clinic's medical journal, the doctors call for Congress and government regulators to make a host of changes, including letting Medicare negotiate drug prices and allowing the importation of cancer drugs across the U.S. border.

Drug companies counter, saying their drugs help people and the prices have to account for the costs of research and development.

Story by Sarah Jane Tribble