Cost of Aranesp

I've received Aranesp for anemia several times, but I was not aware of the outrageous cost of this drug. I received an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from my insurer (the pharmacy portion) yesterday and was appalled that my Oncologist charged my insurer $3,660.45 for ONE injection! My insurer allowed $2,703.28 and my co-pay was $15.00. I have been anemic since I have been on chemo, 14 months now, and the Aranesp does make me feel better (after a brief bout of aches and fever the night I receive the injection). My oncology nurse told me I can receive Aranesp only once every 3 weeks, so I thought it was for a medical reason. Now that I know what it costs, it has to be the cost that limits its use. I am so grateful that I have an excellent medical plan, TRICARE, that has never denied me any treatment or drug prescribed by any of my doctors. Is anybody else aware of the cost of this drug? What does someone do if they cannot afford this drug? What do the other drugs, like Carboplatin and Taxol, cost? I'm afraid to ask!

God bless us all.

Mike in Missouri

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Hi Mike don't really have an anwer for you but know its thousands of dollars my daughters cancer treatment was $60,000 15 yrs ago and my roomate back injections cost $5000 each. I'm on tricare too Thank God, I am being treated at Lackland AFB in San Antonio so don't really see the cost except when I have to go to outside dr. Alot of people lose their life savings to the treatments and some do get medicaid and disability ss. Its way to scary the cost of medicine today. Lord knows what this obama care will bring to the tricare system or medicare. Already the military kicks you out of base care at 65 except for special services like cancer, pulomary, heart of course we can always use the ER except you could sit their for 6 to 8 hrs. God bless and good luck to you.

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Hey Mike its me again, I looked up the anemia drug your taking (aranesp) I'm anemic too but had never heard of the drug, Did you know their is a black box warning from the FDA on this drug? Taken in high doses it can cause heart attacks tumor growth and blood clots, strokes their are several lawsuits pending right now. Not to scare you but talk to your dr about this drug. Also diebetics are not suppose to use this drug.

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You bring up some very good points. Are cancer drugs worth the money? The needed change in the 'war on cancer' will not be on the types of drugs being developed, but on the understanding of the drugs we have. The system is overloaded with drugs and underloaded with the wisdom and expertise for using them.

The single most neglected area of cancer research has been the development of methods and technologies to be matchmakers between individual cancer with individual cancer treatment. The single most neglected area of cancer treatment has been the unwillingness to utilize the matchmaker technologies which have already been developed and which are already available.

Three years ago, three federal agencies, NCI, FDA, and CMS, announced their program to try to identify biological indicators, or biomarkers, which may indicate whether a cancer patient is likely to benefit from a given anti-cancer therapy, or even whether they will suffer from certain side effects. Biomarkers were already a part of drug development, but health officials wanted to routinely incorporate those measurements into clinical treatment.

Technologies, developed over the last twenty years by private researchers, could hold the key to solving some of the problems confronting a healthcare system that is seeking ways to best allocate available resources while accomplishing the critical task of matching individual patients with the treatments most likely to benefit them.

The issue in this instance could very well be cost, but it could also be a medical issue.

Back in 2006, there was a not-so-serious investigation into the allegedly illegal bundling scheme with anemia drugs. Also, Federal laws bared drug companies from paying doctors to prescribe medicines that are given in pill form and purchased by patients from pharmacies. But companies can rebate part of the price that doctors pay for drugs, like the anemia medicines, which they dispense in their offices as part of treatment.

The payments gave physicians an incentive to prescribe the medicine at levels that might increase patients risks of heart attacks, strokes and fuel the growth of tumors. And much of the evidence came from studies in which patients were treated more aggressively than the drugs' labels recommended.

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I guess it depends on who is answering, "Are cancer drugs worth the money?" Although I am aware of possible side effects (including shortened life span), I also know that without aranesp, I'd choose to quit. From my viewpoint, aranesp (which lasts me 4 months) makes the difference between living and sitting in a chair with a blanket and hat!

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