Can PTC get away with a $35,000 price tag on a cheap, old overseas steroid for Duchenne?

PTC Therapeutics $PTCT thinks it can roll out the steroid deflazacort for $35,000 a year, undercutting the $89,000 price that pushed Marathon Pharmaceuticals to the center stage of a US drug pricing scandal.

Stuart Peltz, PTC CEO

The biotech bought deflazacort from Marathon for $140 million in cash plus a possible $50 million milestone, betting that they could spring into the US market with the steroid. It’s been available overseas for about $1,000 a year, leaving the Duchenne parents who had been acquiring it for a low cost steaming over the inflated US price.

Marathon is now winding down its operations, slimed by a scandal that showed no signs of going away as prominent lawmakers jumped into the act, querying them on just how much they might have spent on the development program and why the FDA allows these players to game the system. Everyone knows what PTC paid, though, and the markup is still huge.

The big question for PTC now is whether payers will simply require patients to use the generic steroid prednisone, available for just pennies a pill, where there’s little actual efficacy and safety data that can be used to compare the two. The drug will be marketed as Emflaza.

PTC’s stock is down 4% this morning.

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