The Penicillin of Cancer

Cost of Cisplatin Treatment

How much will your chemotherapy treatment cost? This website cannot answer that question, and neither can most people you ask. Pricing of oncology drugs is a subject shrouded in secrecy and probably intentional obscurity. For one thing, chemotherapy drugs are not purchased and procured like most medicines. You don't get them at the drugstore. This is not due to any legal restraints or licensing of pharmacists. It's custom. The way things work is that the oncologist who oversees treatment buys the drugs and resells them to the patient (and the patient's insurance company) at a markup. This arrangement provides an avenue for the cancer doctors to make money that most doctors do not have. A cynic might say the current system stays in place because the doctors want it to. A change would threaten their incomes. Indeed, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has stated it disapproves of brown-bagging, although they cite safety and purity concerns as reasons for opposing the practice.

Bristol-Myers Squibb settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2003 over charges it engaged in anti-competitive practices to keep the price of cisplatin high.

The website quotes a price of $19.67 per 50 ml vial. This makes it one of the less expensive chemotherapy drugs, much cheaper than the new on-patent drugs coming onto the market.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology's patient-oriented website,, has a section on cost of cancer care.
cancer medicine
Public Domain image from National Cancer Institute