First Two Drugs for Treatment of Fatal Lung Disease Approved By FDA
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved first two drugs that can slow the progression of a fatal lung disease. This approval could open not only a new era for patients but also a new chapter in the controversy over high drug prices.
The two drugs are: Roche's Esbriet and Boehringer Ingelheim's Ofev. Both these drugs are developed to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is a condition of scarring of the lungs. It affects roughly 100,000 Americans and kills many of them three to five years after diagnosis.
Though these two drugs won't make people fully better still they will largely slow the rate at which lung function declines in some patients.
Daniel M. Rose, chief executive of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation which is an advocacy group that gets some funding from drug companies, said, "It's very exciting to have two approved therapies now for a disease for which there were no approved therapies. There's a lot of enthusiasm and excitement within the patient community".
He also talked about his concerns about how readily insurers would pay for these drugs. The wholesale price of Esbriet would be about $7,800 a month, or about $94,000 a year - two to three times what the drug sells for in Canada and Europe.
The price of Ofev, also known as nintedanib that treats idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs is not yet disclosed by the executives. They say that they will do it once the drug became available, which they say would be in another 10 days.
The prices of drugs in the US are typically high as compared to what they are in other industrialized countries. This is because other countries apply government pressure or price controls to keep the costs low.
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