Pharma profits and whether healthcare is a right or a commodity!

The FDA approved on Friday the most expensive drug on the planet –  a gene replacement therapy (Zolgensma) from Novartis to treat children younger than 2 suffering spinal muscular atrophy.

The drug treatment attacks the genetic disease that often kills infants. But, it will come with the HUGE price tag of more than $2.1 million.

Novartis said it will allow health insurance companies to pay the $2.1 million over 5 years  (without including any potential rebates or discounts) and argues that is less expensive than Spinraza, a competing therapy made by Biogen.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review – ICER (a group that evaluates drug pricing and effectiveness) said in a statement that an appropriate all-in price for Zolgensma should be between $1.1 million and $1.9 million — below what Novartis set; and other ICER estimates price the drug even lower, between $310,000 and $900,000.

Novartis acquired AveXis, the biotech firm that developed this gene therapy, for $8.7 billion last year, so investors demand a return for their investment.

Zolgensma is an example of scientific advances allowing to treat crippling diseases and of the social debate whether healthcare is a right or a commodity!

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