Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, and it is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Immunotherapy is a promising treatment option for pleural mesothelioma, and it involves the use of drugs that stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells. However, like many cancer treatments, immunotherapy can be expensive, and the costs can be a significant burden for patients and their families.
The cost of immunotherapy for pleural mesothelioma can vary depending on several factors, including the type of therapy, the number of treatments required, and the location of treatment. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the cost of immunotherapy can range from $100,000 to $200,000 or more per year.
One example of an immunotherapy drug used to treat pleural mesothelioma is pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The cost of pembrolizumab varies depending on the dosage and the duration of treatment. According to the Medicare website, the average cost of pembrolizumab is $9,000 per infusion, and the recommended dosage is 200mg every three weeks. This means that a patient could pay up to $117,000 per year for pembrolizumab treatment.
Other immunotherapy drugs used to treat pleural mesothelioma include nivolumab (Opdivo) and atezolizumab (Tecentriq). The cost of these drugs can also vary, but they are generally in the same range as pembrolizumab.
It is important to note that these costs do not include other expenses associated with treatment, such as hospital stays, diagnostic tests, and other medications. Additionally, patients may need to travel to receive treatment, which can add to the overall cost.
Fortunately, there are several financial assistance programs available to help patients with the cost of immunotherapy for pleural mesothelioma. These programs include:
Medicare and Medicaid: Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, as well as for people with certain disabilities. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health insurance to people with low incomes. Both programs may cover the cost of immunotherapy for pleural mesothelioma, depending on the patient’s eligibility and the specific drug being used.
Patient Assistance Programs: Many drug manufacturers offer patient assistance programs that provide free or discounted medication to eligible patients. These programs may have income requirements or other eligibility criteria, so it is important to check with the manufacturer to determine if a patient is eligible.
Non-Profit Organizations: There are several non-profit organizations that provide financial assistance to cancer patients, including those with pleural mesothelioma. These organizations may provide grants, scholarships, or other forms of financial assistance to help cover the cost of treatment.
Clinical Trials: Patients who participate in clinical trials may receive free or reduced-cost treatment. Additionally, some clinical trials may provide compensation for travel expenses and other associated costs.
Insurance Coverage: Patients with health insurance may be able to have some or all of the cost of immunotherapy covered by their insurance plan. However, it is important to check with the insurance company to determine what is covered and what out-of-pocket expenses the patient will be responsible for.
In conclusion, the cost of immunotherapy for pleural mesothelioma can be high, but there are several financial assistance programs available to help patients with the cost of treatment. Patients and their families should work with their healthcare providers and other resources to determine what financial assistance programs are available and what options may be best for their individual situation.