The new top 10 most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et

Bio­Marin’s de­ci­sion last night to set the whole­sale ac­qui­si­tion cost of its new ul­tra rare dis­ease drug Brineu­ra for CLN2 at $702,000 — with a sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er net amount — cre­ates a new en­try in the list of the 10 most ex­pen­sive ther­a­pies in the world. With uniQure’s gene ther­a­py Gly­bera un­used and head­ing for the shelves, we al­so de­cid­ed to drop that, leav­ing Hori­zon in the top slot with its WAC price for Hori­zon’s Rav­ic­ti, at *$793,632, ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal line­up from Rein­sur­ance Group of Amer­i­ca. Brineu­ra is the new num­ber 2. We’ll al­so note that you could ar­gue for a place on this list for Bio­gen’s Spin­raza, which starts with a $750,000 price for its first year, but then drops by half, falling be­low the new top 10.

 

Whole­sale Ac­qui­si­tion Costs (List Price)

 


1. Rav­ic­ti $793,632

Com­pa­ny: Hori­zon Phar­ma
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(glyc­erol phenyl­bu­tyrate)

Ap­proved ini­tial­ly for Hy­pe­r­i­on in 2013 as a treat­ment for urea cy­cle dis­or­ders, Hori­zon saw the po­ten­tial and ac­quired the com­pa­ny for about $1.1 bil­lion, boost­ing its port­fo­lio of rare dis­ease drugs. (*This is the same price cit­ed by AHIP in their pric­ing re­port, which cites WAC and AWP pric­ing da­ta pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Sup­ply Sched­ule and the RED­BOOK, as of Sept. 30, 2015. A spokesman for Hori­zon dis­putes this num­ber, say­ing the WAC is clos­er to $560,000.)


2. Brineu­ra $702,000

Com­pa­ny: Bio­Marin
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(cer­liponase al­fa)

The drug treats ul­tra rare cas­es — 20 new di­ag­noses a year — of Neu­ronal Ceroid Lipo­fus­ci­nosis Type 2 dis­ease (CLN2), a form of Bat­ten dis­ease. The dis­ease pro­gress­es rapid­ly, with re­cur­rent seizures and vi­sion loss oc­cur­ring as most vic­tims are quick­ly left un­able to walk by the age of six be­fore even­tu­al­ly killing them. The drug was test­ed in on­ly 22 pa­tients in an ab­bre­vi­at­ed study, with a com­par­i­son on the nat­ur­al his­to­ry of sev­er­al dozen oth­ers.


3. Lu­mizyme $626,400

Com­pa­ny: Sanofi – Gen­zyme
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(al­glu­cosi­dase al­fa)

This drug for Pompe’s dis­ease helped make the rare dis­ease field pop­u­lar in bio­phar­ma. Ap­proved in 2010, Sanofi liked the pro­file at Gen­zyme and bought out the com­pa­ny for about $20 bil­lion a year lat­er. The FDA hand­ed out their or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion for this drug in 1997.


4. Carbaglu $585,408

Com­pa­ny: Recor­dati
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(car­g­lu­mic acid)

This drug treats rare cas­es of N-acetyl­glu­ta­mate syn­thase de­fi­cien­cy. Al­so ap­proved in 2010, there are on­ly a hand­ful of cas­es of NAGs dis­ease every year. The con­di­tion is char­ac­ter­ized by hy­per­am­mone­mia, en­cephalopa­thy, and res­pi­ra­to­ry al­ka­lo­sis and has fre­quent­ly led to the swift deaths of new­borns.


5. Ac­tim­mune  $572,292

Com­pa­ny: Hori­zon
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(In­ter­fer­on gam­ma 1-b)

Ap­proved for se­vere, ma­lig­nant os­teopet­ro­sis and chron­ic gran­u­lo­ma­tous dis­ease, rare ge­net­ic dis­eases, Ac­tim­mune not­ed last last year that the drug failed a Phase III for Friedre­ich’s atax­ia. Hori­zon ob­tained a sep­a­rate or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion for the drug when it de­cid­ed to mount the study.


6. Soliris $542,640

Com­pa­ny: Alex­ion
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­eases – or­phan drug
(eculizum­ab)

This is the drug that built Alex­ion, and its suc­cess has helped in­spire some new ri­vals to see if they can do it one bet­ter in parox­ys­mal noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria and atyp­i­cal he­molyt­ic ure­mic syn­drome. It’s al­so un­der re­view now for re­frac­to­ry gen­er­al­ized myas­the­nia gravis, which earned the com­pa­ny an­oth­er or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion.


7. Al­pro­lix $503,880

Com­pa­ny: Biover­a­tiv
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(Co­ag­u­la­tion Fac­tor IX [Re­com­bi­nant], Fc Fu­sion Pro­tein)

This long-act­ing he­mo­phil­ia B med­i­cine was re­cent­ly spun out — along with Eolctate — from Bio­gen and So­bi in­to Biover­a­tiv, which start­ed out life with hun­dreds of mil­lions in cash and plans to build a rare dis­ease drug pipeline. Plen­ty of new drugs are in the works now that could rev­o­lu­tion­ize this field.


8. Idelvion $500,000

Com­pa­ny: CSL Behring
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease — or­phan drug
(al­butrepenonacog al­fa)

Ap­proved last year at the FDA, Idelvion is an­oth­er long-act­ing he­mo­phil­ia B drug that is the first in its class to in­clude the blood pro­tein al­bu­min. The drug is de­signed to re­place Fac­tor IX, a nat­u­ral­ly oc­cur­ring clot­ting fac­tor miss­ing in he­mo­phil­ia B pa­tients.


9. Naglazyme $485,747

Com­pa­ny: Bio­marin
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(gal­sul­fase)

Naglazyme was orig­i­nal­ly ap­proved back in 2005 for mu­copolysac­cha­ri­do­sis type VI (MPS VI). On­ly a few dozen pa­tients are pre­scribed this en­zyme re­place­ment drug in the US every year.


10. Folo­tyn $450,540

Com­pa­ny: Spec­trum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals
Cat­e­go­ry: Rare dis­ease – or­phan drug
(prala­trex­ate)

This drug first be­gan at­tract­ing at­ten­tion for its price back in 2009, when it was priced at $30,000 a month af­ter be­ing ap­proved to treat rare cas­es of pe­riph­er­al T-cell lym­phoma. Al­los, which de­vel­oped the drug, de­fend­ed the price as in line with oth­er drugs for rare can­cers. Spec­trum bought out Al­los in 2012.

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gestures to the audience after being recognized by President Trump following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (via Getty Images)

Tes­la chief Elon Musk teams up with Covid-19 play­er Cure­Vac to build 'R­NA mi­cro­fac­to­ries'

Elon Musk has joined the global tech crusade now underway to revolutionize vaccine manufacturing — now aimed at delivering billions of doses of a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19. And he’s cutting right to the front.

In a late-night tweet Wednesday, the Tesla chief announced:

Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others

That’s not a lot to go on. But the tweet comes a year after Tesla’s German division in Grohmann and CureVac filed a patent on a “bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, a method for RNA in vitro transcription, a module for transcribing DNA into RNA and an automated apparatus for RNA manufacturing.” CureVac, in the meantime, has discussed a variety of plans to build microfactories that can speed up the whole process for a global supply chain.

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George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

Re­gen­eron co-founder George Yan­copou­los of­fers a com­bat­ive de­fense of the po­lice at a high school com­mence­ment. It didn’t go well

Typically, the commencement speech at Yorktown Central School District in Westchester — like most high schools — is an opportunity to encourage students to face the future with confidence and hope. Regeneron president and co-founder George Yancopoulos, though, went a different route.

In a fiery speech, the outspoken billionaire defended the police against the “prejudice and bias against law enforcement” that has erupted around the country in street protests from coast to coast. And for many who attended the commencement, Yancopoulos struck the wrong note at the wrong time, especially when he combatively challenged someone for interrupting his speech with a honk for “another act of cowardness.”

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No­var­tis los­es biosim­i­lar ap­peal as court up­holds a 31-year mo­nop­oly by Am­gen's En­brel

A new court ruling has strengthened Amgen’s grip on the IP estate around Enbrel, keeping biosimilars of the autoimmune and inflammatory drug at bay until 2029.

Novartis, the patent challenger, isn’t throwing in the towel yet. In a statement noting the failed appeal, its generics division Sandoz noted its reviewing options, “including potential appeal to US Supreme Court.”

It’s been almost four years since the FDA approved Erelzi, Sandoz’s copycat version of Enbrel. While sales of the Pfizer-partnered drug in the US — the market Amgen is in charge of — have dipped slightly during that time, it remains a solid megablockbuster with 2019 revenue slightly above $5 billion.

Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

Elias Zer­houni dis­cuss­es ‘am­a­teur hour’ in DC, the de­struc­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease R&D and how we need to prep for the next time

Elias Zerhouni favors blunt talk, and in a recent discussion with NPR, the ex-Sanofi R&D and ex-NIH chief had some tough points to make regarding the pandemic response.

Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

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Douglas Love, Annexon CEO (Annexon)

IPO bound? A Bay Area biotech grabs a mega-round on the road to a piv­otal neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion pro­gram

South San Francisco-based Annexon has added $100 million to its cash reserves, along with a new roster of marquee investors backing their play on the classical complement pathway involved in neurodegeneration. And that may well fit the profile for an IPO — though right now everything seems to be working on that score.

Eighteen months after Bain and their syndicate partners put up $75 million to fuel clinical work, Annexon is back at the trough. And this time they’re adding Redmile Group for the lead role, with supporting investments from these new arrivals: BlackRock, Deerfield Management Company, Eventide Asset Management, Farallon Capital Management, Janus Henderson Investors and Logos Capital.

An ex­pe­ri­enced biotech is stitched to­geth­er from transpa­cif­ic parts, with 265 staffers and a fo­cus on ‘new bi­ol­o­gy’

Over the past few years, different teams at a pair of US-based biotechs and in labs in Japan have labored to piece together a group of cancer drug programs, sharing a single corporate umbrella with research colleagues in Japan. But now their far-flung operations have been knit together into a single unit, creating a pipeline with 10 cancer drug development programs — going from early-stage right into Phase III — and a host of discovery projects managed by a collective staff of some 265 people.

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New stan­dard of care? FDA hands Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA an OK for Baven­cio in blad­der can­cer

The breakthrough therapy designation Pfizer and Merck KGaA notched for Bavencio in bladder cancer has quickly paved way for a full approval.

The PD-L1 drug is now sanctioned as a first-line maintenance treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, applicable in cases where cancer hasn’t progressed after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Petros Grivas, the principal investigator of the supporting Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100, called the approval “one of the most significant advances in the treatment paradigm in this setting in 30 years.”

On a roll, Mer­ck blazes through a new seg­ment of the bio­mark­er trail

Merck has notched an approval for using Keytruda to treat a biomarker-based subset of first-line colorectal cancer patients with unresectable or metastatic tumors, as the pharma giant continues to find new niches for its blockbuster PD-1 star.

The OK is significant in a number of ways. Not only does it build on an accelerated approval for all tumors characterized as microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR); it also marks the first single treatment for colorectal cancer that doesn’t contain chemotherapy.

FDA ap­provals roundup: Zo­genix's Fin­tepla, Ul­tragenyx's Do­jolvi, and Genen­tech's Ph­es­go

A weekly update on new drug approvals and indications from the FDA:

New approvals

Fintepla gets the go-ahead for Dravet syndrome

Zogenix’s Fintepla (fenfluramine) has been approved for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome in patients aged 2 years or older. The syndrome is a rare, life-threatening form of epilepsy.

The approval was based on findings from two clinical studies in 202 participants aged between 2 and 18 years, in which the change from baseline in frequency of convulsive seizures was measured. In both studies, children who received Fintepla had significantly greater reductions in the frequency of convulsive seizures, compared with those receiving placebo. The reductions were seen within 3-4 weeks of therapy initiation and remained generally consistent during the treatment periods of 14-15 weeks.