Cancer Drug Pricing

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.