Valeant prices psoriasis drug at $42K per year

Dive Brief:

  • Valeant set the price for its recently approved psoriasis drug to $3,500 per month, or $42,000 a year, the company announced Friday.
  • The drugmaker — no stranger to the backlash the pharmaceutical industry has faced for raising the cost of medicines — said in an April 21 statement the price tag on Siliq (brodalumab) makes it the "lowest injectable biologic psoriasis treatment currently on the market."
  • Siliq, an anti-inflammatory, got the greenlight as a treatment for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the disease, in mid-February. Characterized by scaly, inflamed skin, psoriasis affects about 7.5 million people in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dive Insight:

Valeant joins the relatively newfound trend of not releasing a treatment's list price right when it gets Food and Drug Administration approval, but rather weeks later. The trend signals a more cautionary approach to pricing among medicines makers, who are increasingly focused on finding a cost sweet spot that will turn a profit without angering consumers and lawmakers.

Siliq finds itself in a crowded market. Big pharmas such as Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen and AbbVie all have their own treatments for plaque psoriasis on the market. Also hampering Valeant's prospects is the blackbox warning for suicidal behavior or ideation. A lower cost than competitors, therefore, may help level the playing field.

A recent report from ICER on the costs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drugs — many of which also have indications for psoriasis — found Amgen's Enbrel (etanercept), for instance, has a price tag of $1,111 per .98 mL of a 50 mg/mL syringe. RA patients are prescribed to take 50 mg of Enbrel, an injectable biologic also approved for plaque psoriasis, weekly, meaning the yearly cost could be northwards of $57,000.

AbbVie's blockbuster Humira (adalimumab) is also approved for both RA and psoriasis. The drug costs $2,221 as of February, according to the ICER report, and is recommended for a 40 mg dose every one to two weeks for RA patients. A year's amount of the drug would therefore range around $57,000 to $115,000.

This places Valeant's drug below the competition, but it may not be enough to drive sales. The drug will specifically be going up against newer offerings from Novartis and Eli Lilly. Both Cosentyx and Taltz target the IL17 pathway as well and neither is saddled with the blackbox warning that Siliq has garnered. 

Cosentyx, which won approval in 2015 and also is indicated for use in ankylosing spondylitis, has already hit blockbuster status, pulling in $1.13 billion in 2016 sales. Taltz, approved in March of last year, earned $113 million in annual sales. 

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