The rising tide of cancer drug costs: A splashy infographic

A smart inforgraphic from trade group California Association of Health Plans depicts how cancer drug costs have become exorbitant.

Cancer drug costs are under immense fire of late – particularly because, in our era of proto-precision medicine, we’re still not tailoring therapies to patients with the right level of efficacy. Cancer drugs are currently criticized for their incremental improvement on patient outcomes, particularly when juxtaposed with the skyrocketing rate of price increase.

The California Association of Health Plans, a trade group for the state’s insurers, just put out a splashy two-page infographic on the rising cost of cancer drugs.

It’s part of the trade group’s social media campaign, RunawayRx, that’s putting out a series of similar infographics on the rising costs in healthcare. Here’s another. The information is solid – and a smart marketing move on the part of insurers, since they bear the brunt of the cancer drug costs.

For the sake of formatting, we’ve broken down the infographic for simpler viewing:


Notably, the Express Scripts figure cited in the above infograph showed that, while cancer drug costs grew more than 20 percent, Hepatitis C costs increased nearly 40 percent.

Drugs like Keytruda, Opdivo and Yervoy are runaway hits for pharmaceutical companies – but their applications are still limited in terms of regulatory approval, and the costs are still staggering.


Pharma companies argue that the rising costs help pay for new drug research. But there’s controversy over whether big pharma actually profits from inflated drug development estimates – because that may help rationalize the rising drug price tag. There’s truth to this: