$300K for an additional year of life?

I’m sure this is the politically incorrect way to look at this, but it’s how my mind immediately works. A new drug – Provenge – was approved by the FDA. It’s a vaccine for men with prostate cancer that gives them (on average) four additional months of live.

The drug costs $93,000 for the 3 shots. So, $93,000 for four months or $279,000 for a year [although you don’t really have that option].

I wonder what a life insurance company puts as value on a year of life? Or the courts?

Who should bear the costs of this drug? The insurance company? The individual? Medicare (taxpayers)?

Or, another complexity…I assume the drug doesn’t work if you don’t take all 3 shots. Of course, it’s going to have side effects – fevers, chills, and headaches. Will patients want to spend the last two years of their life with those side effects for the few additional months of life?

What if they get the first shot at $31,000 (1/3rd of $93K) and decide not to get the additional shots? Assuming that makes the first shot a total waste of money, should they bear some responsibility for that? Could you make them pay $3,100 (10%) for the first shot and nothing for the future shots or some other way to make their costs front loaded?

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