Amgen commits to low-cost Repatha; AZTherapies bags Smith Therapeutics' CAR-Treg tech for neuroinflammation
→ As Amgen tracks modest growth of its Repatha franchise and braces for the arrival of cheaper cholesterol-lowering medicines in the market, its commercial team is going one step further to try and boost adoption of its PCSK9 drug.
Repatha’s list price will now be $5,850 across the board, not co-existing with the higher cost option. First introduced in October 2018, that number represented a 60% discount to the original $14,100 per year.
“We have seen significant improvements in access and affordability, but not all Medicare patients are benefitting from these improvements because some Medicare Part D plans have not transitioned to the lower list price option of Repatha,” said Murdo Gordon, EVP of global commercial operations, in a statement. “We are discontinuing the original list price option so that payers and Medicare Part D health plans have clarity and can do their part: cover the lower list price option of Repatha to help every patient prescribed Repatha fill their prescription at an affordable, low fixed dollar co-pay.”
That rhetoric, focused on costs to patients and middlemen’s roles, has been a key talking point among biopharma companies chastised for high drug prices.
While Repatha has performed better than Praluent, the rival PCSK9 therapy from Regeneron and Sanofi, sales are still far off from the blockbuster figures analysts had expected. And not only has Amgen lost a recent court fight to push that competitor out, it’s also facing a new threat from The Medicines Company’s inclisiran — an RNAi therapeutic touted as a superior alternative to the antibodies.
→ Harvard professor David Elmaleh is adding CAR-Treg to his arsenal of neuroinflammation treatments at AZTherapies through an acquisition of Smith Therapeutics. The little biotech — also based in Boston — was founded by Philip Ashton-Rickardt, a former Imperial College London academic who’s joining AZTherapies as SVP of immunology. The preclinical CAR-Treg programs he’s bringing to the company revolves around immunosuppressive cells designed to dampen microglial activity, thereby reducing inflammation.