Poll: Which of These 10 New Drugs Is Priced Too High?

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a drug company charging a high price for a product when we know there’s at least a 60-80 percent chance the patient will get a meaningful benefit, based on solid genetic or molecular profiling. As the world comes to expect more of these “personalized” or “precision” medicines, companies are asking for trouble if they continue on with sky-high pricing of drugs that only have a one-in-four chance of helping a patient with some poorly defined diagnosis.

Given that there have been a number of important new drug approvals in the last year, and a quite a few with sky-high prices, I thought it would be interesting to poll our readers about which ones have gone too far. I know Xconomy readers are very sophisticated about these issues, as people who make a living in the drug development world. I realize this is an unscientific poll, but I’m still curious to see how many people in this pro-industry crowd think some of these new drug prices are too high.

So, below is a chart of 10 new and newsworthy drugs that have been approved by the FDA over the last year. I’ve sought to gather some basic facts—the drug name, disease, number of patients affected, and price. I’m not trying to condense the key clinical findings in table form, because that would take all day, but if you really want to look deeper, I’ve provided hyperlinks to the FDA-approved prescribing information for each product.

One last note: The free poll I’m using, from SurveyMonkey, only accepts votes from the first 100 responders. I’ll be sure to update with a comment when the final results are in. Happy voting!

Company Drug Disease Patient Population Price
Hyperion Therapeutics glycerol phenylbutyrate (Ravicti) Urea cycle disorders 2,100 in U.S. $250,000-$290,000/year based on patient’s weight
Sanofi’s Genzyme unit & Isis Pharmaceuticals mipomersen (Kynamro) Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia 6,000 worldwide $175,000/year.
Sanofi & Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ziv-afilbercept (Zaltrap) Colorectal cancer 143,000 diagnosed in U.S. each year Originally $11,000/month, but now available for 50% off after pressure from Memorial Sloan-Kettering physicians.
NPS Pharmaceuticals teduglutide (Gattex) Short Bowel Syndrome 15,000 in the U.S. $295,000/year.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals ivacaftor (Kalydeco) Cystic fibrosis patients with G551d mutations 1,200 in the U.S. $307,000/year.
Medivation & Astellas Pharma enzalutamide (Xtandi) Prostate cancer that has spread, following prior chemical castration treatment 29,270 expected to die of prostate cancer in U.S. this year $7,450/month.
Ironwood Pharmaceuticals & Forest Laboratories linaclotide (Linzess) Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, and chronic constipation 10 million adults in U.S. who see a physician 3 times/year for symptoms. $220/month.
Onyx Pharmaceuticals carfilzomib (Kyprolis) Relapsed forms of multiple myeloma 10,710 patients expected to die from it in U.S. this year. $9,950/month.
Ariad Pharmaceuticals ponatinib (Iclusig) Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia 2,500 patients in U.S. each year $115,000/year.
Exelixis cabozantinib (Cometriq) Metastatic medullary thyroid cancer 500-700 in U.S., and about the same in Europe. $9,900/month.
–Sources: Company reports, Xconomy reports, FDA, American Cancer Society, New York Times, TheStreet.com


Now, for the polling part.

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  • Argo

    But what about Soliris, revlimid, avastin in NSCLC, Tarceva in Panc, and other cancer drugs that extend life for weeks or a couple of months at a cost well over $100K.

  • Argo–those are all good questions. I just picked these 10 because they represent recent drug approvals in the news, and the free Internet poll only allows me to pose 10 questions.

  • Henry Porter

    Another comment outside the survey boundary. I’d say the main mispriced drug in this list is Ironwood’s linaclotide – too low for a new first-in-class entity that treats a major disease where there are few other options.

  • OK, here are the results of the poll, based on the first 65 responses.

    1. Is Ravicti’s price too high? 71 percent say yes, 29 percent say no.
    2. Kynamro? 56 percent say yes, 44 percent, no.
    3. Zaltrap—59 percent yes, 41 percent no.
    4. Gattex—77 percent yes, 23 percent no.
    5. Kalydeco—48 percent yes, 52 percent no.
    6. Xtandi—48 percent yes, 52 percent no.
    7. Linzess—24 percent yes, 76 percent no.
    8. Kyprolis—55 percent yes, 45 percent no
    9. Iclusig—48 percent yes, 52 percent no.
    10 Cometriq—43 percent yes, 57 percent no.

    Thanks for voting.