Advanced Cancer Test Is A Breakthrough, But Is So Costly That Few Are Willing To Actually Take It

expensive medicine [Source: CBS News]
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Few words are more loaded than “cancer,” and even fewer are as capable of sending a chill down your spine. It’s a word most people hope they never have to hear. Virtually everyone knows someone who has had some form of cancer. The call for a cure is loud and clear, but what about the price tag to properly diagnose it ahead of time? Is there an affordable, advanced cancer test out there? Apparently not.

The “quest” to diagnose cancer comes with a cost. NantHealth, reportedly “founded by the world’s richest doctors,” has created a pricey diagnostic test that claims to go above and beyond current DNA sequencing techniques. But the cost is so expensive that the company is struggling to find willing participants. At a staggering $11,000–it’s not hard to imagine why.

As reported, “NantHealth Inc.’s GPS Cancer, which purports to be the “nation’s first comprehensive molecular test of tumor and normal-tissue measuring,” goes beyond other DNA sequencing tests in the market by providing information on protein expression levels and RNA, genetic messengers that transcribe DNA code into instructions for making proteins. It’s a key in founder Patrick Soon-Shiong’s ambitious approach to treating cancer.”

Despite the novel approach to diagnosing cancer, it seems that few insurance companies are willing to pay the astronomical testing fee when there are other, more affordable alternatives available. A total of 670 “commerical orders” for the new diagnostic test were placed during the second half of last year, according to NantHealth. But, sources say that just six of these testing orders were actually fulfilled and paid for, which leaves an overwhelming majority to answer for.

Sources claim it may be that NantHealth is actually giving away many of these diagnostic tests. Jen Hodson, a spokesperson for the organization, has reportedly said that NantHealth would not turn away any patient or physician seeking to order GPS. She also noted that this choice did create something of a financial setback for the company.

While NantHealth did report over $100 million in revenue for 2016, how much of that came from their diagnostic service is unclear. But it is fairly obvious that their new diagnostic technology, GPS, is far from being readily accessible.



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