Good news for multiple sclerosis patients this week as the 10th disease modifying medication for MS (and the 3rd oral drug) was approved by the FDA. It’s not a new drug as a form of the medication has been approved for treatment of some types of psoriasis for nearly two decades. For a while it wasn’t even a drug – it was used an anti-mold treatment for sofas and shoes before its use was discontinued due to skin irritations. This week, however, Tecfidera (the drug many of us have known as “BG-12” during the testing phases) was approved and its maker, Biogen, intends to release the drug “within days”.
First blush has Tecfidera perhaps a little bit behind Gilenya (which cut relapse rates by 52%) with a reduction in relapse of either 44% or 53% (depending on which of the two Phase III studies you read). These numbers are a good bet higher than efficacy rates of the injectables (in the 30’s).
What has excited many people with MS since information of these trials has begun to leak out is the safety of the med. No “black box” warnings have been suggested by the FDA (as there have been with other MS orals) and it has the aforementioned 19-plus years of use in Europe to show long-term tolerability.
What may not surprise but will surely displease many of us is the expected pricing of Tecfidera. Biogen has not at the time of this writing released its wholesale price. Most analysts in the financial sector, however, are expecting a figure of $50,000-$60,000 per year. This number is in the middle of the two other oral meds, Gilenya and Aubagio.
Why, we must wonder, would a drug that has already been proven to be safe for another disease cost so bloody much? Mind, the drug isn’t exactly the same as the psoriasis medication. As the way this drug actually “works” isn’t really known, I have to assume that the changes were made to make the compound different enough for a new patent (and thus new price).
This new drug makes Biogen the lead dog in the pharma pack making MS drugs — they own Tysabri, Avones, Fampyra (the “walking pill”) and now Tecfidera. All of the current therapies are only approved for relapsing forms of MS though some meds are in different phases of trial for progressive forms of the disease.
I’m going to continue my current “treatment” but it’s nice to know there is another choice for me if I decide to change. It’ll be interesting to find out what my co-pay would be for Tecfidera. I’ll let you know when I find out.
How about you; switching? Thinking about it? Going to talk to your doc about it? Upset about the price?
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
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Read the original: New (to MS) Drug Approved for Multiple Sclerosis: The Price of …