Financial Burden of Cancer Drug Treatment in Lebanon
This paper is considered the first of its kind on cancer treatment cost in Lebanon. Its aim is to mitigate the catastrophic increase in spending on health care for the sake of financial sustainability and equitable accessibility.
Published in APJCP - The Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention and on PubMed
Authors: Fadia Elias, Fadlo R Khuri, Salim M Adib, Rita Karam, Hilda Harb, May Awar, Pierre Zalloua, Walid Ammar
The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in Lebanon provides cancer drugs free of charge for uninsured patients who account for more than half the total caseload. Other categories of cancer care are subsidized under more stringent eligibility criteria. MOPH's large database offers an excellent opportunity to analyze the cost of cancer treatment in Lebanon.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Using utilization and spending data accumulated at MOPH during 20082013, the cost to the public budget of cancer drugs was assessed per case and per drug type.
The average annual cost of cancer drugs was 6,475$ per patient. Total cancer drug costs were highest for breast cancer, followed by chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and NonHodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), which together represented 74% of total MOPH cancer drug expenditure. The annual average cancer drug cost per case was highest for CML ($31,037), followed by NHL ($11,566). Trastuzumab represented 26% and Imatinib 15% of total MOPH cancer drug expenditure over six years.
Sustained increase in cancer drug cost threatens the sustainability of MOPH coverage, so crucial for socially vulnerable citizens. To enhance the bargaining position with pharmaceutical firms for drug cost containment in a small market like Lebanon, drug price comparisons with neighboring countries which have already obtained lower prices may succeed in lowering drug costs.