Amgen leukemia drug Blincyto's massive price tag: $178,000
- Amgen's Blincyto, which was approved for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in December, will cost $178,000 for a standard course of treatment.
- In general, the new immunotherapy drugs are expensive. For example Merck's Keyruda for advanced skin cancer will cost $12,500 per month and BMS's Yervoy costs $120,000 for a four-course treatment.
- Manufacturing cite the benefits, as well as the complexity associated with developing, manufacturing and supplying immunotherapeutic biologics as justification for pricing.
The pricing conundrum of the newest drugs, including immunotherapeutics, is not going away any time soon. One issue is that the treatment populations for these drugs are often small, because of the targeted nature of the drugs.
But on the upside, many companies, including Amgen, have patient support programs that allows patients to receive discounted or even free access to their drugs.