Nov 20, 2019

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

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

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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President Trump in the Rose Garden on May 29. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis who died after a police officer knelt on his neck on Monday.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Joe Biden said via livestream a few hours earlier that he, too, had spoken with Floyd's family. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee implored white Americans to consider systemic injustices against African Americans more broadly, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.