Marathon to charge $89k for newly approved muscular dystrophy drug

Marathon Pharmaceuticals' newly approved steroid deflazacort will have a list price of $89,000 a year, reports The Washington Post.

Here are five things to know.

1. While the Food and Drug Administration approved deflazacort as a treatment for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy this week, the drug has long been available outside of the country and Americans can import the drug from another country for about $1,200 a year, according to the report.

2. Marathon CFO Babar Ghias told The Washington Post the net price of the drug will be about $54,000 a year after rebates and discounts.

3. For patients, the cost of the drug would be "zero or low out-of-pocket expense" when considering insurance and financial assistance programs from the company, Mr. Ghias continued.

4. Aaron Kesselheim, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston said Marathon's assistance programs are more of a "marketing move" than a "public health solution," according to report.

"Instead of making the price at a level that is reasonable for patients, they make it a very high price and offer this pathway that patients may not qualify for, they may not know about, there may be limitations on it," he told The Washington Post.

5. Deflazacort also earned an orphan drug designation, which offers drugmakers incentives to encourage the development of rare disease treatments. As one of those incentives, Marathon holds seven years of exclusive rights to sell deflazacort in the U.S., although the drug has been available as a generic for years in other countries.

"This also seems to be another example of gaming the Orphan Drug Act, which was intended to try and encourage research into new therapeutic entities for people who have rare diseases — and it doesn't seem like this is that," said Dr. Kesselheim.

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