What Are the Costs Involved in Receiving an Investigational Drug?
If they are selected to receive an investigational drug, patients can expect to receive that drug free of charge. In some cases, other costs associated with the treatment itself may pop up, and patients should check with their insurer to see if those additional costs are covered prior to beginning the treatment regimen.
Additional costs associated with treatment can come from a few different places. If the drug causes certain side effects, for example, patients may need to receive a prescription for another drug to mitigate those side effects. Common side effects associated with oncology treatments can include:
- Digestion issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakened immune system
- Appetite loss
- Mouth and throat issues
The degree to which you might experience side effects from a cancer drug normally depends on the following:
- The specific drug or combination of drugs you take
- The dosage of the drug
- How your body reacts to the drug, which a clinical history review may be able to predict
Costs From the Pharmaceutical Company
The cost of moving an investigative drug through the regulatory system, including the clinical trial drug investigation itself, is high. In some cases, a pharmaceutical company may file a request with the FDA to charge you to use the drug. These charges would include the direct cost of making the investigational drug available, including manufacturing and shipping, as well as indirect costs, such as reporting on the drug’s efficacy and or a review from an institutional review board.
There may also be a cost associated with actually administering the investigational drug. This does not require FDA authorization. Such costs could end up being your responsibility. Again, it’s important to check with your insurer prior to beginning treatment so you don’t end up with any unexpected costs.
For more information about investigational new drugs, patients and physicians can take a look at the NCI’s PDQ database to track the status of ongoing studies. NCI's Cancer Trials website, along with information specialists at NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), are also available to provide further information.