How can the state pay for drugs that are shown to be effective against disease but cost far too much? Regularly, someone will be on a current affairs television program and point their finger at the government for not continuing to supply their needed medication. In the long term a government must balance the books. There is simply not enough revenue to provide new expensive drugs.
A new treatment for melanoma called Ipilimumab is very effective, but it costs $120,000 for a three month course. It stops the cancer from spreading beyond the skin. Ipilimumab can also be used to treat some types of lung cancer.
Should the government subsidize this drug? Like all medications there are side effects that can be severe in some patients. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, urination complications, bloating, stomach pain, fever and breathing difficulties.
The drug usually extends life by several months. In some cases patients survive for a year. A value judgement is needed to decide whether this treatment is added to the pharmaceutical benefits list. Obviously, there are many new drugs that prolong life for a relatively short period. Personally, if I was to get melanoma I would not worry about extending my life for maybe a year. I would be looking at the quality of my final days of life.