Pharma turns to social media influencers

Maximilian Muench makes his living from travel photos. The same model is increasingly applying to prescription drugs. Photo: Paul Zinken/Picture alliance via Getty Images

Social-media influencers aren’t just promoting clothes and fancy hotels any more — they’re now helping to sell prescription drugs.

Details: Most of these influencers are patients, according to STAT. They sign up with talent agencies, and then pharmaceutical companies come to those agencies looking for a patient willing to promote a particular drug.

The potential $4 million drug

Doctors look at a child who has spinal muscular atrophy.
Doctors look at a patient with spinal muscular atrophy. Photo: Lola Bou/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Novartis bought biotech company AveXis for $8.7 billion earlier this year, and executives are thinking about charging at least $4 million for AveXis' highly touted gene therapy to treat spinal muscular atrophy, according to Endpoints News.

Why it matters: This would be the most expensive drug in the world, by far, if it gets FDA approval, and it would raise drug pricing concerns to a new level. As Walid Gellad, a medical professor at the University of Pittsburgh who studies pharmaceuticals, mused today: "The fact that we can spread a price across thousands or millions of people does not justify a given price."

More stories loading.