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FROM THIS EPISODE

The annual cost of cancer drugs has soared to twice the average American income. Oncologists around the country are calling for new regulations to ease the financial burden on patients facing bankruptcy as well as life-threatening diseases.

Also, Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead… and has been for years. On today's Talking Point, Cecil the Lion, a Minnesota dentist, and big game hunting in Africa.  

Photo: Calleamanecer

Producers:
Christine Detz
Evan George
Andrea Brody

Taliban Leader Is Dead… and Has Been for Years 6 MIN, 30 SEC

Mullah Omar founded and led the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan until it was toppled by the United States after September 11, 2001. Now -- after years of rumors — officials in both Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan have confirmed that Mullah Omar died in a Pakistani hospital two years ago. Sune Engel Rasmussen joins us from Kabul, where he reports for the Guardian and other news outlets.

Guests:
Sune Engel Rasmussen, freelance journalist (@SuneEngel)

The Rising Cost of Fighting Cancer 34 MIN, 15 SEC

One third of all Americans will get some form of cancer during their lifetimes — and the average cost of drug treatment is $100,000 a year. That's five to 10 times what it was 15 years ago and, for many patients, the cost of survival is bankruptcy. Drug companies insist big money is needed to cover research and development, but doctors, insurance companies and regulators say it's time for a change. Why do Americans have to pay more for cancer drugs than Canadians or Europeans?

Guests:
Jeanne Whalen, Wall Street Journal (@JeanneWhalen)
Hagop Kantarjian, MD Anderson Cancer Center (@MDAndersonNews)
Lori Reilly, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (@PhRMA)
Lee Tomlinson, cancer survivor

More:
Doctors in support of patient-driven initiative, petition to lower price of cancer drugs

The Death of Cecil and the Controversy over Big Game Hunting 9 MIN, 7 SEC

On an African safari in 1909, President Teddy Roosevelt trapped or killed more than 11,000 animals and bragged about it. That was then. This is now. Walter Palmer is hiding out since he brought back the head of a lion he killed in Zimbabwe. He's been called a "monster" and a "criminal" on social media, and the incident has created a new uproar over big game hunting.

The Minnesota dentist said he thought it was legal, but his professional guide faces charges for luring a lion out of a national park in Zimbabwe, where Palmer wounded it with a bow and arrow, then finished it off with a rifle 40 hours later. And it wasn't just any lion. It was Cecil, a kind of national mascot — the "star" of an animal preserve who'd been tagged by researchers at Oxford University. Fiona Miles is director of Four Paws, an animal conservation group in South Africa.

Photo: Bryan Orford

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