U.S. Senators sound the alarm on cancer medication price hike

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(NEWS10) – U.S. Senators are sounding the alarm about a 1,400 percent price hike for a cancer medication. But can anything be done?

A small pill that treats brain cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma now has a huge price tag

“A phrase that comes to mind is price gouging,” John Rother, President of the National Coalition on Healthcare, said.

Five years ago Lomustine cost $50 dollars per pill. The same pill now costs nearly $1,000.

Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) want answers from the manufacturer and its parent company…

“They’re trying to make more money, a 1400% increase, off the backs of people who literally it’s a life or death situation for them. It’s outrageous,” Sen. Masto said.

NEWS10 ABC contacted the pharmaceutical company to ask why the price has increased so dramatically and are still waiting for a response.  An online statement blames the cost of raw materials and discounts for to low income patients.

“I think the technical term for that is smoke and mirrors. It’s not persuasive,” Rother said.

Rother says there’s an epidemic of price hikes for medications like Lomustine with no generic alternatives.

“Every other country in the world has a mechanism to restrain prices, we do not.”

The pills cost more than $760 each in the U.S.

Prices at five Canadian pharmacies average about $21 U.S. dollars for the exact same pill.

“You should not die or go bankrupt because you cannot afford your healthcare,” Sen. Masto said.

In the end everyone pays more because insurance companies raise prices to cover the costs. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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