$2M drug not world's most expensive, Zolgensma developer says

Zolgensma, Novartis' gene therapy treatment that was approved in May, costs $2.1 million and has often been referred to as the world's most expensive drug. David Lennon, president of AveXis, the biotech that developed the drug and was later acquired by Novartis, argues that isn't the case, according to the Financial Times

Zolgensma is a one-time treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, an inherited muscle-wasting disease that it often fatal to patients before age 2.

"The view that Zolgensma is the most expensive therapy in the world is, frankly, wrong," Mr. Lennon told the Financial Times. "When you consider the cost of therapy over the course of someone's life, you are talking about millions of dollars. The fact that we compress the cost into one treatment makes it look expensive."

Mr. Lennon told the Financial Times that Spiranza, an alternative spinal muscular atrophy treatment, requires four single-injection doses in the first year that cost a total of $750,000, as well as maintenance doses every four months for life that total $375,000 annually. 

He added that the company priced Zolgensma on this benchmark rather than on research and development costs. 

Because the alternative treatment costs $4 million over a period of 10 years and Zolgensma is a one-time cost of $2.1 million, Mr. Lennon argues that calling it the world's most expensive drug is misleading. 

"We should be pricing these medicines on the value they bring to society and sharing that value between the innovator and society," Mr. Lennon told the Financial Times. 

Read the full article here

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