Nov 20, 2019 - Health

Researchers criticize $225,000 annual price of Pfizer's new heart-failure drug

Illustration of money in a pill capsule

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Some of the researchers who helped develop a new heart-failure drug are criticizing its high price, Bloomberg reports.

The intrigue: Pfizer, which makes the drug, says that it's targeted at a small population, justifying the high price. But critics say that the condition isn't that rare, setting up Pfizer to reap in a fortune from the medication.

  • One of the researchers now criticizing the cost of the drug, tafamidis, released a cost analysis last week that found the drug is only cost-effective after a 90% price decrease.
  • Today, the drug costs $225,000 a year, or $651 per day. Four doctors involved in its clinical trials told Bloomberg that not only could it end up being given to more patients than anticipated, but that it will also be taken by patients for years or even decades.
  • However, its price tag is comparable to curative drugs or those that treat rarer diseases.

Between the lines: "While criticism of drugmakers by patients and politicians is common, it's far rarer for academics who helped lead development of a therapy to turn into antagonists of the same company that funded the research," Bloomberg's Emma Court writes.

The other side: Pfizer said the cost is appropriate and that it may be reduced if the drug is more widely used than expected.

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