The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 18, Issue 2, Summer 2018

Deacon Gregory Webster
Pages 227-236

Financial Toxicity
Treatment Expense and Extraordinary Means

The financial toxicity of biotherapeutic treatments is examined. Kymriah, a new gene therapy, has a list price of $475,000 per treatment; Yescarta, from Kite Pharma, costs $373,000 per treatment. Such costs are a significant burden on patients, patients’ families, payers, health care systems, and communities. Studies have shown that financial toxicity—the effect of excessive treatment cost—diminishes patients’ quality of life, compliance, and survival. Some pharmaceutical companies promote outcomes-based pricing and other strategies to offset financial toxicity, but these approaches have not been shown to reduce burdens. Catholic teaching holds that the benefits of treatment should outweigh its burdens, and that burdensome treatments are not obligatory. The financial toxicity of treatments should be included in the ethical assessment of burdens on the patient.