Ultra-Expensive Orphan Drugs: What do they really cost?

      Close-up on Amgen’s Blincyto

Expensive orphan drugs have received agreat deal of attention over the last few years. Depending on one’s perspective, they can be viewed as having saved the innovative pharmaceutical sector from completely falling off the patent cliff or as greed-driven, poison pills that threaten to undermine the economic viability of the health system.

VOI Consulting recently performed a detailed cost analysis of one recent entry into the small but growing number of ultra-high cost drugs, Blincyto® (blinatumomab), Amgen’s acute-lymphoblastic leukemia therapy which launched with a stated price of $178,000 per patient. The results of this analysis were surprising and, we believe, worth sharing. Although it is not altogether shocking to find that in-depth analysis supports a conclusion contrary to media reports, It is unusual that this issue appears to have escaped widespread attention given its magnitude and direction.

Breaking down the numbers to identify and understand the underlying dynamics of biopharmaceutical industry challenges is one of VOI Consulting’s core strengths and this analysis is just one example of how we do this. Given the importance of this topic, we plan to conduct similar analyses on other members of the high-cost category under the umbrella title, Ultra-Expensive Orphan Drugs: What do they really cost? We hope the results will provide more meaningful metrics to inform the important debate over pharmaceutical prices in the United States.

BLINCYTO® is a registered trademark of Amgen Inc. VOI Consulting is not connected to Amgen or any other parties in this matter.

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