New cancer drug could have astro­nom­i­cal price

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

Kaiser Health News

A new leukemia drug be­ing hailed by doc­tors as a break­through could prove among the most ex­pen­sive ther­a­pies ever on the mar­ket.

For a sin­gle treat­ment, the price is ex­pected to reach hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars.

“It is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary treat­ment,” said Dr. Prakash Sat­wani, a pe­di­atric hema­tol­o­gist at NewYork-Pres­by­te­rian/Columbia Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, not­ing that the ther­apy can help some leukemia pa­tients with no other op­tions.

But, he added, “the price will be phe­nom­e­nal.”

Switzer­land-based No­var­tis hasn’t an­nounced a price, but Bri­tish health au­thor­i­ties have said $649,000 for a one-time treat­ment would be jus­ti­fied, given the sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits.

The ther­apy was unan­i­mously ap­proved by a Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee in July, and its ap­proval by the FDA in Oc­to­ber seems all but cer­tain.

The treat­ment, CTL019, be­longs to a new class of med­i­ca­tions called CAR T-cell ther­a­pies, which in­volve har­vest­ing pa­tients’ im­mune cells and ge­net­i­cally al­ter­ing them to kill cancer.

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