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Bristol-Myers’ New Cancer Medication Costs Blockbuster $142,000 Per Year

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Drug Pricing

The drug – like many of its competitors – comes with a blockbuster price tag of $142,000 for a year of treatment.

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December 3, 2015 | by Sarah Massey, M.Sc.

The newest multiple myeloma cancer treatment developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb – Empliciti – in collaboration with AbbVie, won US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval on Monday. The drug – like many of its competitors – comes with a blockbuster price tag of $142,000 for a year of treatment.

According to a statement made by Bristol-Myers Squibb spokesperson Audrey Abernathy to FiercePharma, the drug is designed to be used in combination with Celgene’s Revlimid and dexamethasone, and one month of treatment costs around $10,000. The treatment also requires a two month induction period.

Abernathy said Bristol-Myers Squibb would work to ensure patients have access to Empliciti “in cases of affordability issues,” and that the decision to price the drug so high was based on numerous factors including the number patients with multiple myeloma, negotiations with payers, and the value the drug will give to both patients and society as a whole.

While potential revenues from Empliciti have the potential to reach blockbuster levels, its uncertain whether payers will be receptive to recommending the drug in a second-line setting, according to E.B. Capital Markets' Todd Campbell. As the drug is approved for use in patients who have already tried between one a three other therapies, Campbell says the drug could be designated for third-line use, potentially damaging sales.



Regardless of Empliciti’s potential, it faces stiff competition in the multiple myeloma treatment market. Both Amgen and Celgene have developed drugs that are in competition for third-line status, with Amgen’s Kyprolis gaining second-line treatment designation in July of this year.

Earlier this year, the FDA approved Darzalex – by Johnson & Johnson – for patients who have tried a minimum of three other therapies. The list price for that medication is on par with Empliciti at $135,550 for one year.

This past November saw a number of multiple myeloma medication approvals including Empliciti and Darzalex. The FDA also approved Takeda’s Ninlaro to be used in combination with Revlimid and dexamethasone, in patients who have tried only one prior treatment.

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Keywords: Cancer, Blockbuster, Drug Pricing


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