At a time when drug pricing has become a major concern for the industry and the country, the cost of pioneering new CAR-T therapies has inspired some sticker shock. Are these drugs worth the cost? Yes, it appears so.
The nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) assessed the clinical effectiveness compared with the value of leukemia therapy Kymriah and lymphoma treatment Yescarta. ICER looked at CAR-T therapies in contrast with chemotherapy, considering patient survival, quality of life, and healthcare costs over the lifetime of the patient.
The findings? These therapies significantly extended the lives of some patients, much more on average than traditional chemotherapy. Although pricey, CAR-T is cost-effective, according to researchers from the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (selected by ICER).
Kymriah, made by Novartis, was approved for patients under age 25 with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and is also part of an ongoing study of adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. It costs $475,000.
Yescarta, made by Kite/Gilead, is indicated for adults with relapsed or refractory large B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It costs $373,000.
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