Apr 8, 2019

Gene therapies expected to come with big price tags

A lab technician opens a cryogenic container at the Paoli-Calmettes Institute cancer care center in Marseille, France. Photo: Gerars Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of potentially revolutionary gene therapies are in the development pipeline, but we haven't yet figured out how to pay for them, Bloomberg reports.

Details: These drugs are expected to launch with extremely high prices, which are partially justified by the fact that they're designed as cures for diseases that are currently treated long-term. But that doesn't mean we know how to pay these huge sums in one sitting.

What they're saying: Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, said that one possible solution could be installment payments, per Bloomberg.

  • The company plans to use installments for Zolgensma, a gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy that's expected to get approval soon.
  • Analysts expect its price to be $2 million, the first multimillion-dollar drug in the U.S.

The big picture: The FDA expects to approve as many as 20 cell- and gene-therapy drugs each year by 2025. Many of these drugs could have list prices in the millions.

  • “If we get to a point where these therapies become available not only in very rare conditions but in substantial patient populations, multimillion-dollar prices are not going to be in any way sustainable,” Nick Crabb, scientific-affairs director at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, told Bloomberg.

Go deeper: The drug pricing debate is stuck in the past

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Bloomberg denies telling a pregnant employee to "kill it"

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the debate stage Tuesday denied telling a former employee to terminate her pregnancy.

Catch up quick: Per the Washington Post, a former saleswoman has alleged workplace discrimination against Bloomberg and his company and says Bloomberg told her to "kill it" when he learned she was pregnant. Bloomberg denied the allegation under oath and entered a confidential settlement with the woman.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They're talking about health care, Russian interference in the election, the economy and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for reelection. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected.