The list price of the therapy for A.L.S., Relyvrio, is $158,000 a year. To make matters worse, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration even though the agency’s analysis concluded there was not yet sufficient evidence that the medication could help patients live longer or slow the rate at which they lose functions like muscle control, speaking or breathing without assistance.
Amylyx officials said that most patients would pay little or nothing for the treatment because the company expects private and public insurers to cover it. However, insurers will pass those costs onto customers, so, in effect, we all pay.
According to The Times, “the F.D.A. decided to greenlight the drug instead of waiting until 2024 for results of a large clinical trial partly because the treatment is considered safe. The agency said that although the evidence of effectiveness was uncertain, “given the serious and life-threatening nature of A.L.S. and the substantial unmet need, this level of uncertainty is acceptable in this instance.”
The price of 1,200 pharmaceutical drugs outpaced inflation.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a Friday report that “there were 1,216 [pharmaceutical] products whose price increases during the twelve months from July 2021 to July 2022 exceeded the inflation rate of 8.5% for that period.”
“The average price increase for these drugs was 31.6%,” the report said, noting that “several drugs increased their list prices by more than $20,000 or by more than 500%.”
Again we are faced with a philosophical question. Is pharma a business to maximize profits, or are they an industry with social and economic implications?
Most big pharma is only concerned about profits, stock prices, and shareholders. $156,000 for a drug that may not work because there are no other options? What’s happened to the conscience of our industry?