UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3 yrs

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UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3 yrs

Postby garyak » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:59 pm

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Postby garyak » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:04 pm

NEW YORK—Biogen Idec Inc. increased the wholesale price of popular multiple-sclerosis drug Avonex by 6% last month, while Ireland's Elan Corp. gave a 7% boost to the price of MS therapy Tysabri, which it sells with Biogen.

The two blockbuster drugs make up the majority of Biogen's revenue and the higher prices continue the trend of aggressive increases for drugs that treat the debilitating disease. The moves are the second increases for both drugs in the past eight months.

A Biogen spokeswoman declined to provide a reason for the move, saying that the company doesn't comment on its pricing strategy. An Elan spokesman said the Tysabri price increase "took into account multiple factors, including patient access, the reimbursement and the competitive pricing environments."

Biogen is in the midst of a restructuring that includes a focus on developing treatments for neurology and increasing sales of the existing MS treatments. Last year, the company completed the expansion of the Avonex sales force, along with other initiatives to reinvigorate U.S. sales of the drug, which was launched in 1996.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. said in November that the prices for MS drugs have risen by 65% over the past three years. With the increases, the annual price of Avonex now stands at about $37,500 and Tysabri is $42,800, according to spokespeople from the companies.

Tysabri is Elan's biggest seller, although it is important to the future of both companies. Revenue from Avonex and Tysabri made up about 70% of Biogen's total of $4.4 billion for 2009.

Avonex is popular for initial treatment of the disease, while Tysabri is generally given to patients who don't respond to earlier therapy or have an aggressive form of MS.

In June, Elan increased Tysabri's price by 18.7%, marking the most aggressive increase since the drug's approval in 2004. Under their collaboration, Elan sets the price of Tysabri. The drug had global sales of $1.1 billion in 2009.

Tysabri's sales growth has been weaker than originally expected because of the drug's continued link to a rare brain infection called PML that led to its temporary market withdrawal in 2005. Biogen on Thursday disclosed six more cases of PML in MS patients taking Tysabri, bringing the total number of cases to 85 as of Jan. 7. The company reported no new deaths among patients who have developed the infection, so the total stands at 16.

For Avonex, price increases have aided sales growth as the number of new patients using the drug stagnated and competition increased across the market for MS treatments.

Lazard Capital Markets recently noted that Biogen last increased the price of Avonex by 4.5% in the third quarter and 5.5% last February, moves that followed three 9% price increases in 2009. A Biogen spokeswoman declined to confirm those price moves, citing policy.

The price increases in recent years have come with similar moves for other MS drugs including Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.'s Copaxone, and Rebif, which is marketed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany's Merck KGaA. Late last year, Novartis AG priced Gilenya, the first daily pill for MS, at $48,000 a year.

Biogen is in the midst of a restructuring that includes a focus on developing treatments for neurology and increasing sales of the existing MS treatments. Last year, the company completed the expansion of the Avonex sales force, along with other initiatives to reinvigorate U.S. sales of the drug, which was launched in 1996.

Last month, Biogen Chief Executive George Scangos downplayed the importance of price increases for the drugs. In an interview, he said there wasn't "a huge amount of room" for further increases.

"As we think about our planning, we think about market share and units and how do we compete effectively against the other drugs that are on the market, and less about what upside value we have in price increases," he said.

Write to Thomas Gryta at thomas.gryta@dowjones.com
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Postby garyak » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:07 pm

Multiple Sclerosis
Merck Serono’s oral multiple sclerosis drug Movectro (cladribine) was rejected by the EMA in September as the regulator believed its benefits failed to outweigh its risks.

It has however been approved in both Australia and Russia and is still under FDA review, but this has been delayed after the US regulator asked for more information on the drug.

Movectro could still make it to the US market by the second quarter, but it has already lost first-to-market advantage to Novartis’ rival oral MS drug Gilyena, which was approved by the FDA in September and is forecast peak year sales of over $2.5 billion.

Despite its setbacks, Merck Serono still hopes Movectro will achieve blockbuster sales in excess of $1 billion
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Re: UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3

Postby Cece » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:35 am

$40,000 per patient, per year, every year
this is big big business
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Re: UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3

Postby CureIous » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:36 am

Yet one more reason to not trust a single word coming from the FDA when it comes to our health. We are nothing but a cash cow. Even with CCSVI treatment, we are the same, it takes not a genius to start multiplying the numbers. Trust nobody is a good mantra to start with. I cannot stress enough that we are truly on our own with a lot of competing interests for our disease dollars. I don't care how nicely it is couched, we exist to make other people money. Just something to keep in mind as we traverse this difficult landscape.
RRMS Dx'd 2007, first episode 2004. Bilateral stent placement, 3 on left, 1 stent on right, at Stanford August 2009. Watch my operation video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwc6QlLVtko, Virtually symptom free since, no relap
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Re: UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3

Postby Robnl » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:06 pm

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Re: UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3

Postby CureIous » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:36 pm

You bet, 30-40k a year minimum, that's just those DMD's, toss in regular checkups, other tests, MRI's, and we have some pretty big dollar signs on our heads. We are a valuable commodity but not to everyone, certainly not to insurance companies or Medicare, now with CCSVI the math is all over the place, its not like its a cure, some one off deal and the insurance companies can be done with us once and for all, many of us stay on the DMDS AFTER getting treatment for our broken veins, why in the world would any insurance company want to cover another added expense in the many of thousands without knowing it would lessen the expenses in other areas like DMD's?

We can argue the morality or logic of that til we're blue in the face, I'm simply trying to be pragmatic, something that is sorely missing in the CCSVI camp, and what I have argued since the very beginning, that from our perspective, and I mean those of us with only insurance to fall back on, with no resources to fall back on to treat this on a cash basis, we need to move now, if we are going to move, and hope for the best, because once the insurance companies figure this out, we will start to see exclusions, exceptions, and outright denials, regardless of how many ICD codes we toss at them.

I said that was going to happen, and it started happening, ever so slowly. The noose hasn't completely closed yet, but it is coming, the point is that this condition called CCSVI has not been worked out in their actuarial tables yet. If you have cash, credit cards, rich uncle or something to mortgage, then you have options, my thoughts are with those with few to zero options, IE the vast majority of MS patients.

They get dropped from the discussion without the means to go anywhere, see anyone, like life is a sampler platter and all they need to do is pick the correct appetizer.
RRMS Dx'd 2007, first episode 2004. Bilateral stent placement, 3 on left, 1 stent on right, at Stanford August 2009. Watch my operation video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwc6QlLVtko, Virtually symptom free since, no relap
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Re: UnitedHealth group says price of MS drugs up 65% past 3

Postby Robnl » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:14 am

Here in Holland there is a discussion about expensive medicins and if insurance company should pay (there is a crisis you know)

Example: for Pompe disease it cost about 500000 $ a year per patient.

BUT: the price is so high because the pharma keeps it high....huh??

So now they are trying to produce these medicins 'outside' the pharma's...
http://translate.google.nl/translate?sl ... -zelf.html

Weird?? unbelievable! As a patient you're a victim of the pharma; expensive medicins that doesn't solve the problem an with current regulations a few 'guys' can do what want with the prices....
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