On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Celgene‘s drug Revlimid to treat patients with relapsed or recurring multiple myeloma. Trial data has shown the Revlimid, which is a pill, combined with a steroid boosts the survival rate of these patients by a year or more.
According to Reuters, the manufacturer will price the drug at more than $6,000 a month for the highest, 25 milligram, dose. Today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription wall) observes an industry trend of aggressively pricing cancer drugs while creating a safety net for the uninsured. The Journal quotes a Morgan Stanley analyst Sapna Srivastava, “Every time a [cancer] drug is priced, it’s higher.” Other examples are Genentech’s Avastin and Bristol Myers Squibb/Imclone’s Erbitux. Recently Bristol Myers declined to market Eribitux in Canada because of pricing concerns. This strategy has been noted for over two years with no no end apparently in sight.