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Discovery Health welcomes Commission’s cancer med cost investigation

By Angelique Ruzicka

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Dr. Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of medical aid administrator Discovery Health (pictured), has welcomed the Competition Commission’s investigation into three major pharmaceutical companies, which include Roche Holding AG (Roche), Pfizer Inc. (Pfizer) and Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd (Aspen). “Discovery Health welcomes this investigation in the spirit of lowering healthcare costs and will support the Competition Commission in its work,” he said today after being asked to comment by Justmoney. 

As reported earlier on Justmoney, the Competition Commission will look at the high cost of cancer treatment and prices associated particularly with Herceptin which can cost more than R500, 000 for a 12 month course and xalkori crizotinib, which costs around R152, 000 for just 250mg when bought from agent Equity Pty Ltd. The Commission pointed out in its statement that there are cases where these pharmaceutical companies have the monopoly and no generic has been made to compete with their own drugs. 

Dr. Broomberg suggested that there are many drugs on the market that fetch high prices which hurt the consumer, making medical aid unaffordable. “There are an increasing number of new cancer medicines that are extremely high cost, and Discovery Health is concerned by the impact of these high drug prices on the cost of claims, which drives premium increases over time,” he said.  

The Commission said the investigations would be prioritized and concluded ‘soonest’. When asked what he expected of the outcome, Dr. Broomberg said: “We hope to see far greater transparency in how drug prices are set, as well as significant price reductions for these specific products, as well as for all other high cost cancer medicines.”

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