The announced prices for just-approved class of potent cholesterol lowering drugs were too high said an independent non-profit organization, which evaluates clinical and cost effectiveness of new medicines.
Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) researchers identified that the prices of drugs that best provide overall benefits to patients would be around $3,615 to $4,811 each year. This pricing represents a 67 percent drop from the list prices.
"Even if these drugs were used in just over 25 percent of eligible patients, then employers, insurers, and patients would need to spend on average more than $20 billion a year for these drugs," ICER president Steven Pearson said.
The newly-developed injectable cholesterol reducers belong to PCSK9 inhibitors drug class. These drugs were found to lower levels of LDL or bad cholesterol levels by as much as 55 to 60 percent in patients who are not able to lower the levels of cholesterol through inexpensive statins. Research is being done to determine whether PCSK9 inhibitors can lower heart attack risks similar to statins.
Praluent from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi has a U.S. price of $14,600 for a year of treatment. Amgen Inc set an annual price of $14,100 for its Repatha, reveal sources. Depending upon the usage of cholesterol lowering drugs the institute estimates that around 3.5 million to 15 million people in the United States could qualify for treatment.
"There are serious questions regarding the price at which these drugs would represent a sensible value to patients and to the health care system," the report said. ICER found that the two drugs appear to have equivalent overall effectiveness for most patient groups.
Further entry of PCSK9 drugs from Pfizer and others could also lead to lower prices as competition intensifies. "Amgen welcomes a balanced discussion of value, but we disagree with ICER's methodology, assumptions, and preliminary conclusions," Amgen spokeswoman Kristen Neese said in an emailed statement. "We are concerned that ... its short term budgetary focus will be used to create access barriers to innovative medicines like Repatha for appropriate patients."
The effectiveness of Praluent and Repatha were found to be the same for most of the patient groups.