Dear Clinical Trial Participant: Thanks for Your Help. Now Pay Up.

Drug makers shouldn’t penalize patients who helped them profit, an oncologist argues

Each year, tens of thousands of cancer patients selflessly volunteer to participate in clinical trials of experimental drugs. Some of those drugs eventually gain government approval for clinical use. What happens to the patients whose altruism helped get the new treatments to market?

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In many cases, while still battling cancer, they’re told by the drug manufacturer that they must get their life-saving treatment from a “commercial supply” — meaning pay out of pocket or hope their insurance covers the medication’s substantial cost.

In this guest column for The Hill, Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS, explores the little-known practice of post-clinical trial patient abandonment and makes a compelling case for reform.

Dr. Sekeres, Director of Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center’s Leukemia Program and Vice-chair for Clinical Research, writes regularly for various publications about his experiences as an oncologist.