publication date: Sep. 29, 2017

Guest Editorial A costly “rebranding” of an old drug comes with a 700% price increase 

Funaro is a resident at Duke Pharmacy, Friedman is the James B. Powell Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Duke, and Weant is a clinical pharmacist in neuro-oncology at Duke Pharmacy.

Drug shortages, exorbitant medication costs, and price gouging tactics are facets of the American healthcare system that most providers have become all too familiar with in recent years. Unfortunately, oncology is no exception. Given the critical nature of the diseases they treat, chemotherapy agents, no matter how old, are particularly subject to these large and arbitrary price increases.

We recently prescribed a treatment regimen for a patient at our clinic that included the alkylating agent, lomustine. Prior to this patient, our clinic had treated numerous patients using lomustine and have faced few issues with out of pocket expenses. However, this particular patient called to inform us that they were shocked when they were told 220 mg of lomustine would cost them more than $1,000. Considering that their last copay was less than $50, our clinic was as stunned as the patient.

Lomustine is an oral antineoplastic agent that was first approved back in 1976, over 40 years ago. Lomustine has FDA approval for primary and metastatic brain tumors as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.1 Bristol-Myers Squibb originally held the patent for the medication … Continue reading A costly “rebranding” of an old drug comes with a 700% price increase

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