High fives and sobs greet UnitedHealthcare’s reversal of denials for gene therapy - (The Washington Post via NewsPoints Desk)

  • UnitedHealthcare has reversed course and approved coverage for Novartis' gene therapy Zolgensma, Washington Post reported.

  • The drug, which carries a one-time cost of $2.1 million, was approved by the FDA in May for use in most children under 2 with spinal muscular atrophy.

  • UnitedHealth Group chief medical officer Richard Migliori asserted that the decisions were based on clinical evidence and not public pressure.

  • "If a child is symptomatic, we don't care what type they have," Migliori remarked, adding "if they have the genetic mutation, they are getting covered up until age 2."

  • Migliori also stressed that the firm did not consider the cost of Zolgensma in its decisions.

  • Meanwhile, Novartis, which gained rights to the drug as part of its $8.7-billion takeover of AveXis last year, said that the price of the drug reflects its long-term value in permanently stopping nerve loss.

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