University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers recently concluded that an expensive chemotherapy drug’s generic form is not priced significantly lower than its brand-name equivalent.
After capecitabine became one of the first expensive oral chemotherapy pills to come off patent in the U.S., a UNC team undertook a study to track the product’s pricing. The team included Stacie Dusetzina, assistant professor in UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy and member of Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Hanna Sanoff of the cancer center; and Ashley Cole, a doctoral student and research assistant at the pharmacy school.
The trio used insurance-claim data to compare brand-name and generic costs. Dusetzina noted that capecitabine’s pricing falls short of standard expectations for a generic, according to an announcement.
“The price of capecitabine has more than doubled since 2002, so even after generic entry, the price paid by health plans is still higher than the branded drug’s original list price after you adjust for inflation,” Dusetzina said in the announcement. “If prices after generic entry are ultimately higher than original list prices, then it isn’t clear that patients will have easier access to treatment following generic entry.”
Even with a generic, the study found that 10 percent of insured consumers still spent over $100 for one prescription.
“There’s an ongoing national conversation around prescription drug prices, particularly specialty drugs, like those used in oncology,” Cole said. “Our study provides early evidence that generic competition alone may not be enough to rein in the high prices for orally administered cancer therapies.”
Sold under the brand name Xeloda, and marketed by Hoffman La Roche, the product was originally approved in 1998.