Pricing report blasts asthma drug cost

December 23, 2015

In the latest controversy over drug pricing, an organization said that the price of GlaxoSmithKline’s Nucala (mepolizumab), an injectable indicated for severe asthma patients with eosinophilic inflammation, is far over-priced.

In the latest controversy over drug pricing, an organization said that the price of GlaxoSmithKline’s Nucala (mepolizumab), an injectable indicated for severe asthma patients with eosinophilic inflammation, is far over-priced.

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In a new report, The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) found that Nucala’s annual price would need to be discounted 63% to 76% to “be better aligned with value to patients and the health system”, according to a statement from the organization.

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Nucala, which received FDA approval in November, is available for administration in a doctor's office for $32,500 a year.

"Understanding the value of new drugs is critical," said Steven D. Pearson, MD, the founder and president of ICER. "By bringing our scientific approach to evaluating the effectiveness and value of new drugs, we are aiming to help the health care community determine what should be used, which patients benefit most, and at what price innovative treatments represent a reasonable value."

GlaxoSmithKline has not responded to the report.

Approximately 22 million US residents have asthma and approximately 5% to 10% of them have severe forms of the disease, according to ICER. Those with severe asthma are responsible for half of the estimated $50 billion that is spent on direct medical care for asthma each year.

The recent ICER reports provide analyses of the clinical effectiveness, long-term cost-effectiveness, and potential budget impact of Nucala as well as the insulin Tresiba (degludec). “The results of these analyses are used to calculate a value-based price benchmark for each intervention. These price benchmarks reflect estimates of how much better the interventions are at improving patient outcomes, tempered by thresholds at which additional new costs would contribute to growth in healthcare costs exceeding growth in the overall national economy,” according to an ICER statement.

Both reports will be subject to a public meeting of the California Technology Assessment Forum on February 12, 2016.

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