Is Cancer a Death Sentence for the Poor?

Rising drug prices may mean that only the rich can afford chemotherapy.
3:00 | 12/19/13

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Transcript for Is Cancer a Death Sentence for the Poor?
Cost of the drugs is spiraling out of control only the rich can afford them everyone else -- going bankrupt to stay alive. It is she's making Batiste joins us now with news on this troubling issue good morning making thank you Diana Diana the as a rising drug prices beg the question. Is it fair that the rich can afford them and many other people can not a cancer diagnosis doubles your likelihood of going bankrupt. Thanks. -- if her pill bottle goes and -- 65 year old working mother of seven adopted children she's fighting leukemia. Now in remission. But this drug -- -- is keeping her alive only costs at least a 106000. A year. And even with Medicare payments it will cost -- about 101000 a year out of pocket she can't afford it and she's not alone. -- just all seems so unfair cancer drug prices have doubled in the past decade. Eleven of the twelve drugs the FDA approved for fighting cancer and 2012 were priced over a 100000 per year. That's double the average family income -- you feel like you're being forced to choose between bankruptcy court dying. Yes most definitely thousands of cancer patients even many with concerns faced the same dire decision patients who cannot afford the drugs four going to treatment and dying doctor hick -- into margin is leading a protest by more than 100 cancer -- demanding pharmaceutical companies lower their drug prices. Pharmaceutical companies say it costs on average more than one billion dollars to research a new drug. But critics put the cost below ninety million. The pharmaceutical industry is the second most profit of an industry in the United States off -- -- oil and gas investment. In the US -- -- top tier cancer drugs like it cost twice as much as a dozen parts of York China Canada and the UK. Places where the government sets a limit on pricing Bristol-Myers which produces patches medication as the cost of the -- more than doubled since 2007 the CEOs earn tens of millions of dollars do you feel that the way cancer drug prices are now. Only the rich countless. We must have from me. Bristol-Myers Squibb said in a statement to ABC news we take great care to price our medicines based on the cost to develop them for -- so we have robust patient assistance programs in place still nearly one in five cancer patients can't afford their medication patsy among them she applied to -- reimbursement support program she was denied. Down 1030 pills and little hope. The start. Our game changer they are not expensive drugs that just give a few months of life they turn cancer into low grade disease. That you can live with for decades it's really such a shame what's gonna happen -- -- to Thompson. We -- to the drug company or touch with her doctors were trying to help her but there are thousands of patsy is this really needs reform. And he's cancer doctors are going to keep pressuring pharmaceutical companies to lower these prices are there any other alternatives cheaper generic versions of the same drugs. Most of these top tier drugs are patented so they so no generic can be made for example -- cells -- has until 2020 so. You can imagine how much that the price could rise by them. ABC's -- -- -- thank you for that report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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