It’s a difficult circle to square. Drug companies tend to make lots of money. They tend to charge patients lots of money for drugs. My afatinib retail at $7,500 for four weeks supply in the USA. The NHS get them for less than half that price. But I’m currently costing the British taxpayer around £30,000 a year to keep alive.
That isn’t likely to keep me going beyond 2019 though. I will, most likely, need something new before then. One option could be osimertinib, although that, if usable, doesn’t even buy a full year.
Perhaps AstraZeneca and their new immunotherapy drug imfinzi will help keep me going. It’s about to drive £1.5bn-£3.5bn of income for its makers and they rocked the FTSE with a big share price increase on Friday.
That’s an obscene amount to charge for keeping lots of people alive. I say that without having a clue how much they’ve spent developing it. I read that the competition is two years behind them. So obscene or not the market leaders are more than welcome to test their treatment on me before my time comes because their slack competitors aren’t working fast enough to keep me alive.
There’s then a thought for the placebo tester. A group of people who have, without realising, been killed by a drug trial because they weren’t given the active pill. They were randomly chosen to prove that the drug worked without getting the benefits of actually consuming it. If I do ever end up on a drug trial I do hope I’m on the bit after they’ve completed the “randomised” research.
The other problem with the new imfinzi drug is that it’s only been tested on stage 3 cancer patients from what I can see. Those who’s cancer has spread only locally to the lung. My body is riddled with tumours miles away from the start point. I’m stage 4. I’m no expert on the difference but the life expectancy numbers are pretty similar. Weirdly the upper range of five year survival rates is marginally better for stage 4 than stage 3.
Hopefully imfinzi will succeed at beating both stages. Hopefully, when needed, the medics will have a crack at using it on me. Because I don’t think I’ll be here long enough for something else to get tested to the point of being openly available to treat me.
Long live private enterprise! Here’s the imfinzi info.