A couple days ago, I get a call from a friend of a friend. I know the mutual friend from student days in Beijing in the mid-80s. The guy who’s calling runs a film company with his wife, who was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple months ago. They grew up in San Francisco, and divide their time between California and Beijing. She’s doing a clinical trial at Stanford, in which they’ll do all her radiation treatment in a week. (Considering how tired I feel in this, my fourth week of radiation, getting it all at once sounds exhausting.)
Then his wife begins four rounds of chemo on the same regimen I completed: TCH, Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin. She’ll get all three drugs every three weeks for four rounds, then the Herceptin continuing for about a year. After they’re done with the Taxotere and Carboplatin, he says, they’re thinking of returning to Beijing and continuing the Herceptin there.
In Beijing, he says, one dose of Herceptin costs about $5,000. In the US, one dose of Herceptin costs about $10,000, or roughly double the Chinese price.
This just confirms my theory about the crazy chemo drug prices: Big pharma just charges what the traffic will bear, or what a country’s laws will allow.