Jan 30, 2020

Zolgensma's lucrative Q4

Novartis said yesterday that Zolgensma — the gene therapy that's the most expensive drug in the world — brought in $186 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, STAT reports.

Why it matters: It suggests that the drug's enormous price tag isn't blocking patients from accessing it, although the costs are ultimately borne through premiums and by taxpayers.

By the numbers: About 200 patients have been treated with Zolgensma since it launched in June, Novartis said.

  • The company said it has reimbursement agreements that cover 97% of commercially-insured patients and 50% of Medicaid patients.

Go deeper: A new multimillion dollar drug

Go deeper

Insulin prices loom large on the 2020 campaign trail for Democrats

Photo: John Fredricks/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It's well known that drug prices matter a lot heading into the 2020 election, but Democratic candidates are making an especially big deal about insulin, STAT reports.

Between the lines: In some cases, there is arguably a justification for why a drug is very expensive. Insulin — which is a very old drug — is not one of those cases. That makes it easy political fodder.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020

Trump administration wants to lower seniors' insulin costs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is working on a proposal to lower seniors' out-of-pocket costs for insulin, which have nearly doubled over the last decade.

Why it matters: Voters care deeply about prescription drug prices, and if the policy comes to fruition, it could both help seniors afford their insulin and give the administration political points.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

Insurers may not pay for care they've approved

Insurers are increasingly requiring patients to receive preapprovals for drugs or medical care, but even if the care is approved, that doesn't mean the insurer will necessarily pay, Kaiser Health News reports.

Why it matters: If an insurer decides not to pay for the care after the fact, that leaves patients on the hook for what can be huge medical bills.

Go deeperArrowFeb 10, 2020 - Health