While lawmakers, payers, and patient advocates are raising a voice against the sky-rocketing costs of the newer breakthorugh agents in cancer, the drug developers can boast a strong start to the year with big sales figures.
U.S. drugmakers got a strong start to the year with help from the newest cancer medications, which take advantage of cutting-edge research and have the price tags to prove it.
Pfizer Inc, Merck & Co, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co all beat Wall Street’s earnings projections in the first quarter, with sales of their new oncology drugs surpassing expectations. Analysts estimate each drugmaker will have a multibillion dollar blockbuster cancer treatment by 2018. Cancer is one of the biggest targets for drugmakers right now, with scientific breakthroughs helping fuel a series of new drugs.
“Their pipelines are going to be a lot stronger than what people have thought,” said Tony Scherrer, director of research at Smead Capital Management, which holds both Pfizer and Merck shares. “You’re starting to see that come to light this quarter.” With prices for the treatments extending into the six figures for a year of treatment, the drugmakers have drawn criticism from lawmakers, insurers and patient advocates who say the cost of medicine is rising too quickly for the healthcare system to absorb it. The companies say they’re working to make sure sick people have access to the treatments and that the medications can reduce costs over time by helping patients get healthier and live longer.
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