Paying for Drugs to Go in the Trash

Single dose packaging blamed for $3 billion a year "wasted" on cancer drugs.

A new analysis shows that $3 billion a year is wasted on cancer drugs because the package contains more medication than is needed, according to an article in The Washington Post.

"It’s literally paying for drugs that go in the trash," said Peter Bach, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Bach co-authored the study, which was published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

"The study concluded that Medicare and private insurers, as well as patients, pay companies about $1.8 billion a year for medications that are thrown away," reported The Washington Post. "They pay another $1 billion to doctors and hospitals as price markups on those discarded medications, according to the study."

John Rother, president and chief executive of the National Coalition on Health Care, told the news outlet in an email that "billions of dollars are wasted on expensive cancer drugs, due to the way they are packaged in single doses. This practice greatly inflates profits but is waste that we can no longer afford."

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