Bluebird bio Inc. set a price for its gene therapy, Zynteglo, at 1.58 million euros ($1.78 million) over five years, after winning conditional approval in Europe earlier this month to to treat patients 12 years and older with transfusion-dependent β-thalassaemia (TDT), who have no matching donor for a stem cell transplant.
The company proposed an installment plan, with 315,000 euros paid up front and four additional annual payments due, only if the treatment continues to be effective. Bluebird, which is also testing Zynteglo for sickle cell disease, said it expects the therapy to be approved for β-thalassaemia in the United States in 2020.
The company said it does not expect to begin treating patients in Europe until next year, as it works out reimbursement terms with individual countries and authorizes treatment centers. Bluebird said it aims to price Zynteglo in developed nations, including the United States, within a “reasonably close” range. The company said patient access talks are underway with health authorities in Germany, Italy, France, and Britain.
“The one-time potentially curative nature of what we have on our hands here sort of warrants this type of a (pricing) model in a more aggressive way,” Bluebird Chief Executive Officer, Nick Leschly, told Reuters.
In the meantime, drugmakers are forging ahead with promising new gene therapies that will continue to test pricing limits.
The conditional approval means Bluebird must continue to provide additional data demonstrating the benefit of its therapy. Bluebird must also renew its gene therapy’s approval annually until it has enough data to convert the drug’s status to standard marketing authorization.
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