Friday, 19 July, 2024
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World’s most expensive drug approved by the FDA at R60m a dose

The world’s most exorbitant medicine has just been approved by US regulators, who have given the go-ahead to CSL Behring’s haemophilia B gene therapy, a one-off infusion that frees patients from regular treatments but costs a whopping $3.5m a dose.

CSL Behring’s Hemgenix, administered just once, cuts the number of bleeding events expected over the course of a year by 54%, and also freed 94% of patients from time-consuming and costly infusions of Factor IX, used to control the potentially deadly condition, reports TimesLIVE.

“While the price is a little higher than expected, has a chance of being successful because existing drugs are also very expensive and haemophilia patients constantly live in fear of bleeds,” said Brad Loncar, a biotechnology investor and CEO of Loncar Investments. “A gene therapy product will be appealing to some.”

Gene therapies can dramatically improve a range of devastating conditions by fixing their underlying causes. Novartis AG’s Zolgensma for babies with spinal muscular atrophy was priced at $2.1m when it was approved in 2019, while Bluebird Bio Inc’s Zynteglo for the blood disorder beta thalassemia came in at $2.8m earlier this year.

Pricing has been an issue for novel medicines, with high costs for drugs like Biogen Inc’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm in the US and Bluebird’s Zynteglo in Europe contributing to them becoming commercial busts.

While there have been advances in the treatment of haemophilia, measures needed to prevent and treat bleeding can erode patients’ quality of life, said Peter Marks, director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Centre for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Hemgenix represents important progress in developing innovative therapies for people affected by the disease, he said.

Traditional haemophilia treatment infuses missing proteins, called clotting factors, the body needs to form clots and stop bleeding. Hemgenix works by delivering a gene that can produce the missing clotting factors into the liver, where it starts working to make the Factor IX protein.

The gene therapy will be manufactured in Massachusetts by uniQure NV, which sold the commercialisation rights for Hemgenix to CSL Behring in 2020. About 16m people in the US and Europe have haemophilia B, according to uniQure. Haemophilia A is more common, affecting about five times as many people.


TimesLIVE article – World’s most expensive drug approved to treat haemophilia at R60m a dose (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


New therapy cures haemophilia B, corrects gene defect – UK trial


New drug a breakthrough in treatment of haemophilia


As inquiry reopens, ITV spotlights UK’s ‘biggest treatment disaster’






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