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Chris Potter / Flickr Creative Commons

John Carroll at the pharmaceutical news website Endpoints did some interesting digging on the new high-priced drug from Marathon Pharmaceuticals for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The drug company claims that the annual $89,000 list price is justified to recoup the lofty research and development costs and that it won't be profitable for years, but Carroll found that defense probably doesn't hold up. The key points:

  • Carroll consulted with two pharmaceutical industry experts, who analyzed the data and said the costs for acquiring and developing the drug were as low as $6 million and likely no more than $75 million.
  • A slide from a webinar about the effort listed no new registrational studies, which are usually the most expensive part of research and development costs.
  • Assuming Marathon only gets the negotiated rate of $54,000, the company would only have to treat 200 to 1,400 U.S. patients who have Duchenne (or no more than 8% of the market) in one year "to cover a barebones R&D effort." And don't forget: Marathon has seven years of exclusive monopoly pricing for the drug, and it acquired a valuable "priority review voucher" that can be sold or used to speed along a new drug.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

2 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

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