China, Pharma

Bristol-Myers will sell Opdivo in China at half of US cost, setting precedent for checkpoint wave — report

Bristol-Myers Squibb is continuing to set precedents in China with Opdivo, the first PD-1/L1 checkpoint approved in the country, as it reportedly prices the drug at around $84,000 per year — about half of its list price in the US.

A 100mg/10ml vial of Opdivo will cost around $1,352 (RMB 9260) while the 40mg/4ml vial comes in at $670 (RMB 4591), according to Chinese financial news outlet Caixin. The recommended dosage is 240 mg every two weeks or 480 mg every four weeks.

That’s a steep cut from the US list price of $150,000, and a relatively low price compared to neighboring Japan, Korea, Singapore and even Hong Kong.

Caixin noted that Bristol-Myers will offer discounts through a patient assistance program, likely on a “buy five months get six months free” basis.

The company, however, said it has not announced the recommended retail price for Opdivo in China. Here’s the rest of the statement from spokesperson Priyanka Shah:

BMS and the Chinese Government have a shared goal of improving patient access and health in China. We are working with the government to complete the process as soon as possible, so that the patients can quickly access to the Opdivo in China. We will continue to collaborate with the Chinese government, payers and third-party through diversified programs to launch potential project, with an aim to jointly improve the accessibility of Opdivo in China.

Independent biotech investor Brad Loncar — founder of the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy Index and Loncar China BioPharma Index — told IBD that if the report on the price and assistance program is true, one would have to “do the math.”

“That $84,000 is likely the equivalent to what we have here as the list price,” said Loncar. “No one actually pays that price; there’s a hidden discount.”

Any success or failure here will have major implications for the field as Merck gained approval last month for its PD-1 star Keytruda in record time, signalling an impending wave of checkpoint inhibitors that will include a sizable crop from Chinese biotechs.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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