Money can’t buy happiness, and this saying applies to almost everything in life. Except for healthcare.
Because unfortunately, nature does not cure disease, although the words of the French philosopher and historian Voltaire will make you not believe it: “The art of medicine consists in pleasing the sick, and nature cures disease,” Voltaire once said saying.
As it turns out, this “art” will cost you. a lot of. If Voltaire lived to see this day, he would be inclined to agree.
TheStreet has compiled a list of the world’s most expensive drug treatments for conditions ranging from progeria to spinal muscular atrophy, neuroblastoma and rare blood disorders.
Each treatment includes details such as cost, patent expiry, sales figures and future outlook.
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NVSEF) Apparently selling the most expensive drug in the world at $2.1 million. This is a one-time injection that cures spinal muscular atrophy in babies by injecting new DNA to correct the defective gene.
Spinal muscular atrophy is a rare inherited neuromuscular disease that causes the progressive and irreversible loss of motor neurons, resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy.
Zolgensma reported sales rose 46% to $1.35 billion.
Novartis is in its third year in the market with Zolgensma and has treated 1,800 babies, Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narsimhan said on the company’s latest earnings call in February.
Zolgensma falls under what the company calls an “innovative medicine” category.
Sales of the overall Innovative Medicines segment, which includes Zolgensma and other key drugs such as Entresto, Cosentyx, reached $42 billion last year, accounting for 81.3% of the group’s net sales.
Zolgensma is approved for sale in more than 40 countries, including the United States and the European Union, for the treatment of infants and young children.
“Following the conditional approval of Zolgensma in Europe in 2020, Novartis Gene Therapeutics has established early access agreements in several European countries. These agreements support early patient access by allowing a variety of customizable options, including retroactive rebates, deferred payments, instalments options, outcome-based option rebates, and collaboration with healthcare systems to optimize disease management,” the company said.
Novartis said these efforts have expanded globally, and the company now has several early access agreements and pay-for-performance agreements.
The market for spinal muscular atrophy treatments is growing with relatively inexpensive drugs, such as Biogen’s (BIIB) – Get Biogen Inc. Report SMA candidate Spiraza costs $750,000 for the first year before dropping to $375,000 a year, according to Reuters.
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But there is no generic competition in the US or EU.
Iger Biopharmaceuticals (EIGR) – Get Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. Report Zokinvy is the first drug to treat progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, or a separate and distinct group of ultra-rare inherited premature aging disorders that kill young patients.
For a familiar pop culture reference, progeria is a disease portrayed by Hollywood actor Brad Pitt in the fantasy romance The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which also stars Cate Blanchett.
The Palo Alto, California-based company recorded Zokinvy’s net product sales of $3.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2021. The company launched Zokinvy commercially in the U.S. last January, with annual sales of just over $12 million.
Zokinvy is a prescription drug that costs patients $717 per 50-mg capsule. Patients typically take about 200 mg of Zokinvy per day, which equates to $86,040 per month and more than $1 million per year.
Eiger BioPharma provides patent protection for Zokinvy until at least 2024 and is applying for a patent extension.
Eiger BioPharma’s application to market Zokinvy in Europe is under review by the European Medicines Agency, with a decision expected in the first half of 2022.
Eiger BioPharma has also filed another U.S. patent application related to a method for the treatment of Progeria and Progeria laminopathy, which, if approved, would provide Zokinvy with further protection until 2039.
Danyelza is a prescription drug used to treat pediatric and adult patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare cancer found in the bones or bone marrow.
Danyelza costs $20,368 per vial, and patients typically use about 48 vials per year, bringing the annual cost to nearly $977,664.
Manufactured by Y-mAbs Therapeutics (YMAB) – Get Y-mAbs Therapeutics, Inc. reportDanyelza, the biotech giant serving patients in the U.S. and Denmark, generated $32.8 million in sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2021, according to its 10-K filing. There are no product sales in 2020 and 2019.
The drug is administered in combination with another drug, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, or GM-CSF, in pediatric and adult patients with high-risk neuroblastoma in the bone or bone marrow.
Danyelza was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2020. The company, which develops treatments for cancer patients of all age groups, began commercializing Danyelza in the U.S. with shipments starting in February 2021.
The biotech giant holds global Danyelza patents through June 2031 in the United States and several other countries, including China and India. The company said it filed a patent term extension application for its core U.S. patent last year, and if approved, it expects to extend the term until February 4, 2034.
British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) – Get the ADR report sponsored by Astrazeneca PLC Treating a rare blood disorder called Soliris is also considered one of the most expensive drugs in the world.
Soliris has quickly become a cash cow for AstraZeneca’s rare diseases unit, accounting for more than 60% of the unit’s overall sales.
AstraZeneca has Solaris patents in the US and Europe until 2027. The biotech pharmaceutical giant earned $1 billion in 2021 from the sale of Soliris in the U.S. Last year, global sales of Solaris reached $1.87 billion.
Sales of AstraZeneca’s orphan drug division topped $3 billion in 2021 after it bought Boston-based Alexion Pharma last July. Soliris contributes 60% of the company’s total rare disease sales.
Luxturna is a drug used to treat adults and children with vision loss due to Inherited Retinal Dystrophy, a rare genetic disorder of the retina.
Luxturna received FDA approval under Spark Therapeutics in December 2017 (ONCE) – Get Spark Therapeutics, Inc. Report.
Launched in the US, Luxturna has a list price of $850,000 per patient, according to biotech news site Fierce Biotech.
In 2018, Novartis entered into an exclusive license and commercialization agreement and a supply agreement with Spark for the sale of Luxturna outside the United States. These agreements include regulatory and sales milestones and royalties paid to Spark on sales outside the United States.
On December 17, 2019, Swiss research and healthcare giant Roche acquired Spark.
Novartis has a number of patent licensing, supply and distribution agreements with Roche.
Roche doesn’t currently break out sales of Luxturna, but the therapy was estimated to be worth $326 million by the end of December 2020, according to trade publication Fierce Biotech.