Immoral cancer drug costs

My husband has SCLC. We just been told that the cost for keytruda would be $ 6800 / treatment. That's a legal robbery! I hope these people controlling it and blocking patient access to it will rot in hell !!!!!

I don't know why you people are putting up with such costs, immunotherapies should come as the first option, and should be FREE!

We not sure how we will get hold of this drug, but we one way or the other we will. end sometimes justifies the means.


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12 Replies

  • Fwiw, the claim is that they are recovering cost of the research. That may or may not be true. Merck does have a program that helps patients with that exorbitant cost. Apply here:


  • the hospital gave us the wrong info, they are not aware of the patient access scheme! Makes a huge difference, still very expensive though. It's beyond belief how a hospital can get such an important info so wrong!

  • Hi Vivi, I can certainly emphasize with you on drug cost. I take 1 shot of Sandostatin a month,.for lung cancer. I complained to my oncologist and he gave us the name of a women in the hospital that would help us. She advocates for patients. Now after filling out a few forms, the company is covering the shot, which btw would of cost me $16,000 a month! So ask your doc, and see if he can give you someone in the hospital or where you are getting chemo that can help you. Good luck !

  • Also talk to Peggy, the administrator of the group, she can give you info.

  • I will be starting on Tagrisso, a targeted therapy. A 30 day supply is over $15,000 but they do have a patient assistance program as long as the individual has commercial insurance (which we do).

  • Do you have insurance?

  • Call a lot of cancer org. Requesting financial assistance. Catholic Charitie call cancer for America, call you health

  • Thanks everyone for the advice. Unfortunately we don't have insurance, my husband has been on the disability pension for 10 yrs due to muscle atrophy, so couldn't afford private heath insurance .

    The price it's incorrect anyway, the finance person from the hospital was NOT aware of the patient access scheme which gives 34% off and price is capped at 60k / year. Still insane though!

    It's also beyond belief how a hospital's finance team is so slack, and has no idea about the access scheme which been there for quite some time!

    We are in Australia, I keep hearing from people in the US they get approved and get the drug for free! But here in Australia every time I raise this question, how come in the US people can get access to it and here not? The answer is always the same. It's a different country. So at the end of the day, the difference whether you can get access to it or not, is based on the colour of your passport. Quite disgusting!

  • I thought you might be in Australia, which seems to be behind the US in including these very expensive new drugs in the list of drugs approved for payment from the health plan. I think that part of your problem here is that Keytruda still has not completed a phase III trial demonstrating effectiveness in SCLC. There have been some preliminary studies that are very hopeful, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has listed immunotherapy as a possible treatment for SCLC on the basis of these early trials, because there are so few good options. Even in the US, however, immunotherapy has not yet been approved as a standard-of-care treatment for SCLC. Any SCLC patient trying to get this treatment outside of a clinical trial MIGHT get approval from their insurance company because of the NCCN recommendation, but they can expect to have to fight for it.

    I believe that Australia rarely if ever includes drugs on the government's approved medication list until after they have completed a successful phase III trial.

    Here is a link to an article from December, which seems to be the latest news from Merck on Keytruda and SCLC:


  • Thank you Anita, I heard about the NCCN, but you really clarified what't really the problem. I thought they would have passed phase III by now, but regardless, there's more than enough evidence that keytruda is an effective cancer drug. I should modify the tile to immoral drug costs along with immoral Australian Gov regulations! And you're right AU is far behind. No wonder why they call it downunder!

    And lets not go there how much $ they spending on useless military US & AU.

  • There's a lot at stake with the clinical trials in progress, and Merck will not cut any corners or try to rush approval until they are positive that they have proof that immunotherapy is better than chemo for second-line treatment of SCLC. Some immunotherapy trials lately have failed and the FDA's review of trial data is meticulous. If they rush for approval and fail, they not only risk their research investment, they also will get huge negative press and their stock price will go down.

    I hope that Merck is willing to help your husband.

  • vivi6121,

    So sorry to hear of your struggles regarding your husband's SCLC and treatment offered. I, too, have SCLC and am on my third round of treatment. I have been through chemo twice, radiation once, and now am being treated with immunotherapy with Keytruda. My recovery results are good. I may be able to stop the immunotherapy treatment with Keytruda in July 2017. So looking forward to that.

    My biggest advocates are my two sons, cancer nurses, nutritionist, and of course my doctor - Dr. Sekhon. I am so blessed to have them all fighting for me. I received a phone call from Merck (manufacturer of Keytruda) and was told I am accepted into the immunotherapy program here in Santa Barbara, CA. I am 65, disabled, and live on social security. My medical coverage is Medicare and Cen-cal. I have one infusion every three weeks. Side effects are virtually none. Slight bit of nausea and an occasional headache. I feel so blessed. The cancer is shrinking and almost gone. Thank you to Merck for accepting me. I'm so grateful.

    Vivi, contact Merck as soon as you can at: Their phone number is - Merck and Co. 908-423-1000 merckaccessprogram-keytruda is another source.

    I will be keeping you and your husband in my prayers. God bless and take good care of yourselves. Please feel free to contact me at my email address any time.

    Kathie Ann Solus

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