A revolutionary drug that could treat a rare and devastating disease is prohibitively expensive. But one state has a plan to pay for its potential $5 million price tag. - (Business Insider via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Massachusetts is exploring options for allowing health insurers to pay for Novartis' spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma over a period of several years, Business Insider reported Sunday.

  • Think of it as instalment plan that's then tied to how well the therapy works," remarked Mark Trusheim, strategic director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation's NEWDIGS programme, adding "this would be a car loan but you've still got to see if the car is going to work."

  • The news comes after an independent analysis found that the one-time therapy, which could be approved by the FDA in May, could merit a price of $1.6 million to $5 million.

  • Although Novartis' AveXis unit did not specifically comment on participation in the Massachusetts programme, the drugmaker stated that gene therapies will require new approaches in the US healthcare system.

  • "Our objective is to ensure patients get access to this therapy, so we can make a meaningful difference in their lives," AveXis explained, adding "we are working closely with payers to ensure we establish appropriate prices reflecting the value of gene therapy and explore creative options for payers, including instalment payment options, as well as outcomes-based arrangements."

  • Meanwhile, Novartis CEO Paul Hudson noted that because SMA is rare, insurers have not yet expressed concerns regarding price and have signalled willingness to pay for the therapy via instalments if necessary.

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