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Evidence of common sense entering the drug debate!

  • Tom Sackville
  • Drug Pricing

Not from price transparency legislation or fancy value algorithms, but as a result of large payers fighting back and refusing to pay.

For years, drug companies have enjoyed the freedom to charge high prices for their latest products, especially in the USA. But according to Blomberg, when Sanofi and Amgen each marketed a powerful new cholesterol-lowering medicine, something surprising happened.

Sanofi, the French pharma manufacturer company had spent more than five years developing Praluent before its launch in 2015. But at a price of $14,000 annually, Praluent never caught on. Now Sanofi is cutting its losses, getting out of the U.S. market for the drug, and halting its heart disease research altogether in favour of more lucrative medicines for cancer and other diseases.

Amgen introduced their version, Repatha at $14,100 annually a month later, with similar ambitions to replace the  cheap, out-of-patent statins with a more profitable option, and met a similar fate.

It has been estimated that moving a large part of the older generation on to these new wave “PCSK9 inhibitors” – for life, not just for a course of treatment - could cost the USA alone $120bn a year. I asked my trusty cardiologist a couple of years ago when all this was in the news, what she thought: her response in essence was “overkill”. Let’s hope that message is finally getting through to the board rooms of the pharma industry

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