5/23/2013 2:45 PM ET|
10 drugs that cost more than a car
Pharmaceuticals that cost well north of $100,000 for a course of treatment are far from rare these days.
The Affordable Care Act, which goes fully into effect next year, could mean that patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions will pay more toward the cost of their expensive medications. In California, for instance, patients could end up paying as much as 30% of the cost for some pricey drugs, according to The Associated Press. Other states have said they will set flat co-pays, even for high-priced "specialty drugs."
In case you have been lucky enough not to encounter these drugs, we're not talking about a $3 bottles of aspirin. Many of these designer drugs can hit six figures for a single course of treatment.
Here are 10 of the priciest drugs currently on the market:
This drug, once available for $50 a dose, now costs $28,000 for a 5-milliliter vial, according to an article last year in The New York Times. The drug, once used primarily to treat spasms in infants, is now marketed by Questcor as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, nephrotic syndrome and rheumatologic conditions.
Avastin, from Genentech, slows the growth of new blood vessels and is prescribed to treat a number of cancers. It has been shown to prolong the lives of some cancer patients by several months, but the medication can cost as much as $100,000 a year.
This drug is used to treat a condition called Gaucher disease, which causes lumps of fat to build up in the heart, brain and spleen. The condition results from a missing enzyme, which used to be replaced using a drug made from human placentas. Cerezyme, a newer version of the drug, is made by Genzyme with genetically engineered hamster cells. The treatment can cost $200,000 per year, and it must be continued for the life of the patient.
This drug, from Shire Human Genetic Therapies, is prescribed to treat Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects males almost exclusively and causes a variety of symptoms, including mental impairment and problems with mobility. Hunter syndrome patients have severely shortened life expectancy. Elaprase, an enzyme replacement therapy, has been found to decrease the symptoms of Hunter syndrome and improve the ability of patients to walk. It costs about $375,000 per year, according to Forbes.
This drug is used to treat patients with T-cell lymphoma who don't respond to treatment or whose cancer recurs. The drug, made by Allos Therapeutics, works by killing cancer cells, thus shrinking tumors; it costs about $30,000 a month.
This is the newest -- and most expensive, at $115,000 a year -- of a number of drugs used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. Ariad, the company behind Iclusig, has said its drug has proved to be effective for patients who aren't helped by other treatments.
This drug, made by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, is used to treat the rare blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, as well as the kidney disorder atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome. It has been described as the most expensive drug in the world, at an annual cost of $409,500, according to Forbes.
This just-approved treatment for multiple sclerosis from Biogen Idec costs about $55,000 per patient per year. Two earlier oral drugs for MS, Gilenya and Aubagio, cost $60,000 and $45,000, respectively. All three are prescribed to treat flare-ups of symptoms in the relapsing form of MS.
Pfizer last year got Food and Drug Administration approval for this new, more affordable treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis, which is expected to cost $25,000 a year. (It's about 7% cheaper than other existing options, according to Forbes.com.) European authorities recently recommended against allowing the treatment there, citing concerns about its safety and efficacy.
When this drug came on the market as a treatment for colorectal cancer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center refused to use it because of its $11,000-a-month price tag. Three doctors from the hospital penned a New York Times opinion piece lashing out at what they called a health care system that often fails to take costs into account. The doctors pointed out that the newly approved drug was no better than existing -- and cheaper -- medications. After the column ran, Sanofi, the company that markets the drug, announced it would cut the price of Zaltrap in half, according to The Times.
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