Analysis of cancer drug prices: A narrative review of literature

Mohammed Shazad, Faris El-Dahiyat, Farideh Javid, Neda Zare, Besime Ozbek, John Stephenson, Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of the literature review is to collect data on how cancer medication pricing affects affordability and availability around the world.

Key findings
A literature search was carried out between 12 October 2020 and 2 December 2020, articles were selected based on them being available as full texts online and written in English. The keywords used were: ‘cancer’, ‘medicines’, ‘drug’, ‘drugs’, ‘pharmaceuticals’, ‘price’, ‘prices’, ‘pricing’. The collective search produced a total of 10 725 articles. After a refining process, any articles considered unnecessary and potential duplications were eliminated, and 16 research articles were included in the final analysis. The results were included in the following categories: (a) high-income countries, (b) low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), (c) originator cancer drug prices, (d) generic drug prices, (e) breast and colorectal cancer drug pricing. The expensive pricing of oncology medications is typically expected to be an obstacle for developing nations; however, the soaring prices have been found increasingly challenging for high-income countries. Within Europe, variations exist between countries in government expenditure and cancer drug prices. Originator cancer drug prices tend to be most expensive in Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany whereas Greece, Spain, Portugal and the UK had among the lowest recorded prices. The high cost of cancer drugs coupled with low availability rates have resulted in restricted access for many LMICs as monthly medicinal costs are often greater than yearly incomes.

The literature has shown the increasing trend of cancer drug pricing. The synthesis has also shown that cancer treatments are unaffordable in many developing countries resulting in most cancer deaths occurring in LMICs. Furthermore, governments cannot effectively challenge patented drug prices until the expiry of the patent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-214
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Issue number3
Early online date9 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2022


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