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Cancer Drug Lomustine Sold in Canada for 97% Cheaper

Why does Gleostine (lomustine), above, cost 1400% more than…

Lomustine is a medication that treats cancer, which was discovered in 1976. Recently, a drug company bought the rights to market the 100 mg version of Lomustine in the U.S. and increased its price by 1400%. As a result, Americans with brain tumors are now struggling to afford this off-patent drug or simply going without it altogether. They don’t have to because Lomustine is available in Canada. There, Lomustine is marketed under the name “CeeNU” at a 97% discount.

Here are some price comparisons for CeeNU 100mg.

Until 2013, CeeNU was sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Co. and even available at U.S. pharmacies for about $50/pill. Now, made by a company called Corden Pharma Latina SPA, the drug is sold in the United States under the name Gleostine, which is the new – and only –  FDA-approved version. Gleostine is distributed by a “start-up” drug company called Next Source Biotechnology LLC, for $768/pill. Yes, this sounds like what Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals did back in 2015 with Daraprim when he jacked the price from $13.50 to $750 a pill.

CeeNU 100 mg, made by Bristol Myers Squibb, can be purchased online from Canada for about $25/pill from PharmacyChecker-verified pharmacies. You can compare prices for all strengths of CeeNU. (more…)

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Doctors Advocate for Lower Drug Prices to Save Lives

A group of over 100 doctors recently banded together to declare that “lower drug prices [are] a necessity to save the lives of patients who cannot afford them,” as written in their article in Blood, the medical journal published by the American Society of Hematology. We couldn’t agree with them more.

The doctors, experts in chronic myeloid leukemia, focused particularly on the drug Gleevec (imatinib), which costs around $100,000 annually per patient in the United States. Gleevec costs around $35,000 internationally.

There is nothing politically or economically radical about their position. In fact, they acknowledge the societal and political pressures that affect drug pricing, as well as the necessity of profits by drug companies to fund future research. They simply seek fair pricing.

Unfortunately, cancer medication prices are dramatically increasing and are not “fair.” To quote the Blood article: “imatinib may have set the pace for the rising cost of cancer drugs. Initially priced at nearly $30,000 per year when it was released in 2001, its price has now increased to $92,000 in 2012 (1), despite the fact that all research costs were accounted for in the original proposed price….”

Such protests can work; last year doctors at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital pressured Sanofi into effectively halving Zaltrap’s initial market price of $11,000 by offering discounts. We hope that these precedents mobilize more doctors to hop on the bandwagon to further publicize that high drug prices in the U.S. are a serious threat to the public health.

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