Patients could end up paying more than $1M for new gene therapy

Total costs of Kymriah, Novartis' breakthrough cancer drug, are expected to be significantly higher than the initial price tag, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

The FDA approved Kymriah, a CAR-T cell leukemia therapy which uses patients' genetically modified immune cells to fight the disease, in August at a cost of $475,000 per treatment. But leading cancer experts contend the total costs of the drug will reach $1 million or more per patient, according to the report.

While the $475,000 price tag has "shattered oncology drug pricing norms," Leonard Saltz, MD, chief of gastrointestinal oncology at New York City-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told Kaiser Health News, "the sticker price is just the starting point."

Cancer experts partially attributed total costs of Kymriah to managing serious side effects that can arise from the treatment, such as stroke-like symptoms and coma.

Novartis has indicated it will only charge for Kymriah if patients go into remission within one month of treatment — a plan the company describes as "outcomes-based pricing," according to Kaiser Health News. Details of the pricing plan are still being worked out.

Read the full report here.

Alia Paavola contributed to this report.


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