Avoiding payer backlash? Amgen sets price of migraine drug at $6.9k

Amgen will charge $6,900 per year for its migraine prevention drug — a price 30 percent lower than Wall Street expectations — as the company attempts to dodge the payer backlash that has affected recent drug launches, according to STAT.

On May 17, the FDA approved Amgen's drug, Aimovig, for patients who have at least four migraines a month. Patients who took the drug in clinical trials had two fewer migraines per month.

Amgen now will try to persuade insurers to pay the $575-per-month bill for the drug.

The $6,900 annual price comes as a surprise to many analysts who predicted Amgen would charge about $10,000 for the drug. A separate watchdog report concluded that the drug would be considered cost-effective for patients experiencing frequent migraines if it cost $8,500 per year.

Amgen's decision to price the drug lower than any prediction comes as drugmakers are forced to rethink their pricing strategies. In recent years, despite successful clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies have struggled to make money on pricey injectable medications — largely a result of payers refusing to buy the drugs, according to STAT.

While the $6,900 price tag will likely keep payers happy, Amgen's investors are worried about the profitability of the drug as the market for drugs to treat migraines becomes more competitive.

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