December 30, 2016
Following the recent FDA approval of Spinraza (nusinersen; Biogen), the manufacturer has announced the treatment will cost patients with spinal muscular atrophy $750,000 for the first year of treatment, with additional annual treatment costs of $375,000.
Spinraza treats a rare spinal disorder in children and adults called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The pricing of the drug reflects the wholesale cost and currently does not account for discounts, insurance coverage, or rebates that might lower the out-of-pocket cost for patients. The cost for the first-year of treatment is higher because it requires six doses, compared to the three doses required annually thereafter.
Earlier this month when the FDA approved Biogen’s drug, many advocates such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Cure SMA supported the decision.
“Spinraza offers new hope for the SMA community and exemplifies our mission of applying cutting-edge science to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients with devastating, life-altering diseases,” George A Scangos, PhD, chief executive officer at Biogen, said in a press release. “We are humbled and grateful for the commitment of the patients and families who participated in the Spinraza clinical trial program, the tireless efforts of our investigators, and the urgency demonstrated by the FDA in rapidly reviewing and approving this treatment.”
Despite positive remarks from Biogen and its supporters, it is expected that patients, insurers, and lawmakers will likely question the cost of the drug, and how the company set its price.
Typically, pharmaceutical companies faced with drug pricing controversy argue that the high price tags are necessary to offset the costs of research and development for the drug in question. Analysts predict Spinraza will likely cost billions to treat patients, and it is expected that Biogen will book at least $1 billion annually following the drugs release.