The skyrocketing prices of pharmaceuticals in the United States are not a new problem, considering Bloomberg’s report stating that Americans spend an average of US$1,300 per person per year on medicine—more than any other country in the world.
Now, news of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving a new cell-based gene therapy, which aims to aid patients with Beta-thalassemia, a rare disorder requiring regular blood transfusions, has garnered mixed feelings from the public.
On one hand, green-lighting Zynteglo, the drug manufactured by Bluebird Bio, is an important advancement in the treatment of the disease, which is often associated with potential health complications.
However, its price—a record US$2.8 million—has sent others balking, with the obvious concern of whether the estimated 1,500 affected patients in the nation would even be able to afford the drug once it becomes available.
According to Reuters, analysts expect the treatment to face resistance from insurers due to its incredibly high price, which no doubt isn’t unusual for gene therapies but has never reached this level of expense.
Bluebird claims the breakthrough therapy could function as a one-time treatment that stop patients from needing future blood transfusions, and even with its jaw-dropping price tag, could save them money in the long run.
“Zynteglo is a one-time gene therapy product administer as a single dose. Each dose of Zynteglo is a customized treatment created using the patient’s own cells (bone marrow stem cells) that are genetically modified to produce functional beta-globin (a hemoglobin component,” a statement from the FDA explained.
Treatments are scheduled to begin in Q4 2022, with each cycle expected to take 70 to 90 days to complete.
[via Reuters and FDA, cover image via Elnur | Dreamstime.com]