Health: the worrying explosion of cancer costs in France

  • Cancer

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The inventor of the cancer plan in 2003 is sounding the alarm. In the Sunday Journal, the famous oncologist David Khayat, alerts the authorities to the exploding costs of cancer in France. “The price of drugs is soaring. The risk of two-tier medicine is real,” said the best-selling popular author. According to a study by the cabinet Asterès, the cost of cancer has indeed gone from 20.3 billion euros in 2004 to 28 billion euros in 2017. A trajectory “not surprising” according to the economist at the head of the Pierre Bentata study which explains that “the population is aging and the health system, which treats us better, is in some way a victim of its success”.

Spending on healthcare, particularly hospitalization and medication, increased the most between 2004 and 2017. Three years ago, it reached 16.5 billion euros, an increase of 50%. compared to 2004. An increase which is explained by “the appearance of more effective treatments, but also more expensive and by a larger number of treated patients”, analysis in the JDD Nicolas Bouzou, president of the cabinet Asterès.

The lost years

To calculate the direct cost of cancer, estimated at 18.3 billion euros, the study took into account the prevention policy – 139 million euros to fight against the consumption of tobacco or alcohol – the expenses for screening – 172 million euros for mammograms or colon cancer screening kits – and public research, whose budget is 694 million euros.

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To quantify the indirect cost, it measured the economic losses linked to early deaths. “We used a key concept in health economics: that of years lost. This may seem shocking to the general public, but it is a very enlightening indicator,” explains Pierre Bentata.

More and more expensive

Thus, the 2.3 million years of life lost in 2017 generated a loss of 9.7 billion euros, details the JDD. A final addition of 28 billion dollars which worries David Khayat. The oncologist believes that “it will cost more and more.” To avoid this explosion of costs, he recommends avoiding “death at all costs by emphasizing prevention, failure in France, and early diagnosis”. It also calls for a rationalization of the cost of care.

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He thus calls for “rethinking the methods of setting the price of medicines” and encouraging laboratories to “provide the best treatments to the greatest number while ensuring the sustainability of their research and development activity”. For this, David Khayat outlines several avenues: reimbursement conditioned to the effectiveness of treatment on groups of patients as is already the case in Germany or the United States or even the payment of a fixed sum authorizing infinite use of a treatment over a given period.


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