Powerful New Cancer Drugs Offer Hope—at Steep Cost - (The Wall Street Journal via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical's PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo went on sale in Japan this week at an average annual cost of $143 000 per patient, which may give an indication of the prices the new drugs are expected to command in the US and Europe in the months ahead, reported The Wall Street Journal.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb plans to market nivolumab, the active ingredient in Opdivo, in the US if approved, but declined to say how much it will charge.
  • The company said it will file its application to the FDA by the end of this month for melanoma, and expects to complete by year-end an application for US clearance to market the drug to treat a form of lung cancer.
  • A Bristol-Myers Squibb spokeswoman said the company prices its medicines based on "the value they deliver to patients and society, the scientific innovation they represent and the investment required to support" drug R&D.
  • J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said higher prices for new cancer treatments have become an increasing concern, but he noted that the PD-1 drugs "have the potential to be game-changers for a lot of people" because patients in studies have had "meaningful, long-term responses."
  • Meanwhile, the FDA is expected to decide by October 28 whether to clear Merck & Co.'s PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab to treat melanoma, and the company has also declined to say how much it plans to charge.

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