Roche aims to 'underwhelm' with risdiplam price as it enters SMA rivalry with Biogen, Novartis — report
With their third-to-market spinal muscular atrophy drug risdiplam now cruising on the FDA’s VIP lane toward a May decision, Roche is thinking through its pricing strategy.
You can expect them to take a page out of their Hemlibra playbook as they tried to lure patients away from Novo Nordisk and Takeda, Bill Anderson — CEO of the pharma group — told Reuters.
“With Hemlibra, we priced at about half of bypassing agent,” Anderson said in an interview with the news agency. “We aim to underwhelm with our price” with risdiplam, he added.
They wouldn’t have to go far. Novartis’ gene therapy, Zolgensma, is the world’s most expensive medicine by one-time cost at $2.1 million. And while Biogen’s Spinraza has a list price of $750,000 in the first year and $375,000 in subsequent years, the annual prices could quickly add up to the millions for an antisense oligonucleotide patients are supposed to take for life.
Unlike the two rival therapies, which are administered intravenously and intrathecally respectively, risdiplam is an oral medication to be taken daily. By modifying how the SMN2 gene is spliced, the drug supposedly increases functional SMN protein levels in both the central nervous system and peripheral tissues.
Zolgensma’s approval is also limited to infants up to 2 years old, and an attempt to expand into older patients through intrathecal administration has been stalled by a partial clinical hold.
Roche’s drug, which it first licensed from PTC Therapeutics, is being touted as applicable for a broad age range from newborns to 60-year-olds, though the pivotal trial submitted to the FDA enrolled patients between 2 and 25.
In addition to priority review — which gives it a PDUFA date of May 24 — the drug also enjoys the FDA’s orphan and fast track designations.