Biogen Faces Challenges to SMA Drug Price

Apr 8, 2019 | Biogen, Price Watch, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Spinraza

spinal muscular atrophy

Motley Fool covers an ICER analysis of Biogen’s leading drug—and it doesn’t look good according to Cory Renauer. Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) may be in trouble. Its recent collapse of its late-stage Alzheimer’s disease clinical program wrought pain for shareholders, employees and prospective patients in need.

Now the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER)  has released a 200-page report explaining that Biogen’s lead drug, Spinraza is overpriced reports the Motley Fool. With a price tag of $125,000 per injection, it targets spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare and genetic defect.  Novartis too has a drug in development—with at least a vision of a $4 million price tag!   SMA is the most common cause of genetic deaths in the U.S. and there are about 25,000 cases total.

Based on ICER’s quality measures Spinraza adds 3.24 quality-adjusted life years to a patient with type 1 SMA. As the Spinraza regimen necessitates “extra loading doses” the cost coms to $750,000 for the first year and $375,000 per annum thereafter.  Motley Food reports that when all is added up; when all is said and done the price tag for Spinraza is a whopping $1.1 million—well beyond the $150,000 boundary established by ICER.

With the imminent introduction of Novartis’ SMA treatment Zolgensma, although the one time price will be higher it will require less treatments downstream. It also augments protein production improving quality of life combatting muscle/strength loss.  The loss of the Alzheimer’s trial and the imminent competition from Novartis puts Biogen into a tough circumstance as we head to 2020.


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