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New drug could hit the market at record $2 million

Posted at 12:52 PM, May 07, 2019

A new drug is expected to hit the market that some analysts predict could cost $2 million dollars, a record price, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The drug maker, Novartis AG, has not yet set the price for the drug. However, a company executive previously said the drug could be cost-effective at a price of up to $5 million.

The gene therapy treatment, Zolgensma, has been shown to be effective in helping infants fight a deadly muscle disease. But experts said the cost is another example of a drug that could be too expensive for those who need it.

Currently, there is only one gene therapy drug on the market. It is called Luxturna and costs a patient $850,000 the WSJ says.

“It’s great to find innovations and treatments that can actually cure those diseases. The problem is we need to figure out a way to balance how to pay for them. Because if no one can afford the drug, the treatment itself is worthless,” David Merritt, executive vice president for public affairs at America's Health Insurance Plans.

On Tuesday, Congress held another hearing on the rising costs of prescription drugs. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from patient advocates and the pharmaceutical industry.

David Mitchell testified about the cost of his treatment.

“I have an incurable blood cancer and prescription drugs are keeping me alive,” said Mitchell. “Every four weeks, I spend half a day at a clinic and receive an infusion of drugs priced at $325,000 a year.”

The pharmaceutical industry said it’s working to cut prices, but noted some drugs have a higher cost because of the amount of time and money invested in research and development.

“Ninety percent of medicines that begin clinical trials don’t make it to the market,” said James Stansel, general counsel at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the sector’s main lobbying association.

“It takes 10 to 15 years and an average of $2.6 billion to bring a product to the market.”

Politifact found members of Congress have introduced more than 40 bills involving lowering prescription drug costs in the current legislative session. With health care, including prescription drug prices, a top priority for Americans, lawmakers seem eager to act.

“I think we’re dangerously close to building a bipartisan consensus about change, it rarely happens around here, but it may just happen in this circumstance,” said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.