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A new gene therapy made by Novartis is about to come to market with a potential price tag of $2 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Details: The drug, Zolgensma, has the potential to cure spinal muscular atrophy, an inherited disease that often kills babies before their second birthday.

  • Between 400 and 500 babies are born each year in the U.S. with the disease.
  • The 12 babies treated in Zolgensma's first clinical trial have survived past their second birthday and are hitting key developmental milestones.

The imminent arrival of the drug is, unsurprisingly, creating new concerns about cost.

  • Drug companies, including Novartis, say that alternative payment models — like paying in installments or tying payment rates to value — could smooth out costs over time.

My thought bubble: The situation is emblematic of our future. With the development pipeline full of innovative drugs designed to treat or cure gut-wrenching diseases, the question of whether a baby's life is worth $2 million — and whether we as a society can afford that — is going to become a familiar one.

Go deeper: The cost of gene therapies could test the health care system

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  3. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators seeks stimulus dealChuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. Economy: Wall Street wonders how bad economy has to get for Congress to act.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.
2 hours ago - Health

First blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer's goes public

Photo: Jerry Naunheim Jr./C2N Diagnostics via AP

A non-COVID medical breakthrough: People over 60 now have access to a blood test for Alzheimer's disease.

Why it matters: The existing PET brain scan test costs some people about $5,000 and often isn't covered by insurance, AP reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Wisconsin, Arizona certify Biden's victories

Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Arizona and Wisconsin officials confirmed the presidential election results in their states, formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victories in the key battlegrounds.

Why it matters: The moves deal yet another blow to President Trump's efforts to block or delay certification in key swing states that he lost.