Out in the cold

I just read an article mainly about the cost of Revlimid in the U.S.A. and the “games” that Celgene, the maker of Revlimid, has been playing in order to prevent it from becoming a generic drug.

The article tells the story of Pam Holt, a myeloma patient and retired educator, who pays $640 a month in order to take Revlimid: http://goo.gl/LHa5Jn

Having myeloma is hard enough, but being forced to go into debt in order to have conventional treatments is simply OUTRAGEOUS.

The greed of these big drug companies has to be stopped…

I consider myself extremely lucky to live in a country (Italy) where nobody has to pay a cent for their conventional treatments. It should be the same in every country.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this article this is a topic that I have often wondered about. In the US we seem to pay a lot more for drugs than elsewhere. One of the deals done to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obama Care) was that the US government wouldn’t actively go after the drug companies to keep costs down. We also got the ability the get market rate insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions.

    However this deal, has no doubt helped continue huge disparity in US prices versus elsewhere. I am told by my health insurance company that my 28 day/10mg Revlamid prescription costs $18,900, my co-pay varies but is generally less than $100. I suspect, (although don’t know for a fact), that the insurance company is actually getting a credit from Celegene so they aren’t really paying the full $18,900.

    A quick look at Celegene’s financial results show that last year they had $8.18 Billion in revenue from Revlamid, 70% of those sales were in US and 30% internationally. Now either there are many more M. Myeloma patients in the US than the rest of the world (not!), or the cost is simply a lot more in the US.

    Interestingly, Celegene is in the process of buying Juno for $9 Billion, Juno specializes in CAR-Ts therapy. So if the article you highlighted is correct, that there will be a generic for Revlamid by 2022. Celegene is probably looking to replace lost revenue in hematology business with CAR-Ts.

    While drugs are more expensive here, the benefit is a patient can get access to them if they are recognized as the standard of care. When I replased after my BMT in 2016 and wasn’t responding the RVD, Dara came to the rescue and I have been MRD negative for the last six months. At the time, I had plans to return to UK after many years in the US, but a long conversation with good folks at Myeloma UK convinced me that for all the flaws of the US system, I would probably have access to treatments quicker and live longer in San Francisco than London. I was heartened to see that the NHS recently approved Dara for relapsed M Myeloma patients. now if you think Revlamid is expensive the monthly Dara infusions are in a different league!

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