BG12 will cost $54,900 annually

Robert Weisman. Biogen Idec’s new pill to treat MS will cost about $54,900 per patient annually.

Biogen Idec Inc. said Friday it will price Tecfidera, its newly approved pill to treat multiple sclerosis, at $54,900 a year per patient in the United States.

Officials at the Weston-based biotechnology company said the figure represents a “solid value” for MS patients, who will take the capsule twice a day. Most MS treatments now on the market have to be injected or taken through intravenous infustion.

“We think it’s appropriate price,” said Tony Kingsley, executive vice president for commercial operations at Biogen Idec. “The clinical benefit of the product is very meaningful. We look at it in comparison to the alternatives on the market and the investment we’ve made.”

Biogen Idec, the largest Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, won Food and Drug Administration approval Wednesday to sell the oral therapy. Company officials said Tecfidera will distributed, stocked, and available topatients “on or around” Monday.

MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous systems of about 400,000 people in the US and about 2.5 million worldwide, disrupting communication between the brain and other parts of the body. Over time, patients can suffer from muscle weakness, loss of balance, and a progressive decline in function.

Most current treatments for MS are priced between $45,000 and $60,000 annually.

The cost of Tecfidera represents a slight premium over the the $51,000 projected by investment fund managers polled by New York research firm ISI Group. But it is less expensive than the first MS pill, Gilenya, sold by Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, which costs $60,000.

A more recent market entry, the Aubagio pill marketed by the Cambridge-based Genzyme division of French drug maker Sanofi SA, has been priced at $45,000 a year. Analysts said Tecfidera has demonstrated greater safety and effectiveness than competing pills.

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“Is the US Healthcare system sustainable?”

19 thoughts on “BG12 will cost $54,900 annually”

  1. Yo, Don Giovannoni, why are you even questioning the sustainability of the U.S. healthcare system? In all honesty, one feels your frustrations with the NHS derives from its apathetic and frugal attitude towards adopting emerging DMTs. In that sense, you and the Americans are more simpatico than you give credit.Don Giovannoni and co., don't take this the wrong way because I accept that you fellas are way more educated and older than me, but seriously, if I was a medicine loving neurologist like you then after med school I'd have immigrated to the States and set up camp over there. The Americans love popping pills and are willing to pay verily for it. You'd have been a less frustrated clinician, not to mention made a few bob on the side, too. The American culture is more suited to taking risks with their health and chequebooks, therefore you really missed a trick not choosing to settle there in your younger years.Bro, this Tecfidera drug your talking about is probably as useless as everything else on the market to treat MS, not to mention just as dangerous. Saying that, fifty odd grand must sound like the cost of a round of drinks to the average Yank, therefore, the cost must be totally suitable.

  2. Dr Dre doing his all drugs are poison rant again, I see. However, on a more constructive note, how does this equate to what we pay for MS drugs in the NHS? Does this mean there will be the usual- NICE refuse to fund MS drug, Biogen think again, price reduced to what NHS will pay, but restricted to certain MSers?

  3. 50 odd thousand for the usual 'might' reduce disability by 30%. Worries me how much a cure would cost. There should be quite a bit of interest in whether or not off the shelf (non-esterified) fumaric acid has the same effect.The drug costs are quite surprising when compared to surgical interventions and devices (even the most advanced) which typically cost a lot less than these drugs cost per year. The NICE hurdle is extremely irritating, but it's hard to see how the UK can get drugs any cheaper if there isn't some sort of stand taken over pricing.

  4. Listen up children, I don't want the CCSVI brigade to manipulate my personal sentiments regarding medicines for MS in order to support their crackerjack agenda. CCSVI is an abhorrent insult to medical science and has resulted in the wastage of copious funds, not to mention peoples lives.These new and emerging drugs may have been trailed and sanctioned in some countries, but they are not a cure for MS. You can't cure something when you don't even know why and what is causing it. To think otherwise is an insult to your intelligence. If they worked then they'd work for everyone with MS, which is not the case.This current British Government hates all ill and disabled citizens. In fact, they hate everyone that is not wealthy. MSers are a huge burden to society and often not in work from a pretty early age. This means that they are more likely to need support both financially and medically. They need crutches, wheelchairs and home adaptations, much of which the state has to pay for. Are you people out of your minds in thinking that they'll pay multiples of fifty grand for a drug that we won't know if it works until twenty years have elapsed? Get real, man.The real effects of benefits and health cuts will kick in from tomorrow. You guys don't realise how bad the situation may get if action isn't taken to protect spending. To be honest with you, Britain is financially and morally destitute.Do yourselves a favour. Try not to ever get ill in life. If you are ill then hope for the best. Live well, be good. I love you all like a Jesus type figure. Happy Easter.

  5. Prof G or Mousedoctor:How is BG12 different from the fumaric acid used to treat psoriasis? Couldn't the psoriasis drug (which has been around for years) be prescribed for MS patients, presumably at a much cheaper cost than a mortgage for a mansion?

    1. I will let prof g answer this. The main difference is will be the price tag and then packaging and formulation.

    2. BG12 is Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF, which is rapidly converted to Monomethyl Fumarate (MMF). Fumaderm is a combination of fumaric acid esters: dimethylfumarate 30 mg, ethylhydrogenfumarate as the calcium salt (67 mg), ethylhydrogenfumarate as the magnesium salt (5 mg) and etylhydrogenfumarate as the zinc salt (3 mg). Therefore quite different in terms of formulation; however they both work via MMF.

    3. Thank you for the detailed answer (I will have to re-take a chemistry class). What I still wonder is why don't neurologists prescribe Fumaderm for MS, if its mechanism is the same as BG-12, i.e via the MMF? Is there anything special about the formulation of BG-12 that would make it work better than Fumaderm for MS?

    1. Steve S That is a very interesting article. To charge this amount of money for something that us lab guys can buy for peanuts is an insult to the MS community in my opinion.

  6. ~100 g of fumaric acid cost ~$5. One can make ~100 g of dimethyl ester of fumaric acid in a day using small amounts of methanol and hydrochloric acid (they cost close to nothing). I refuse to understand how Biogen Idec can make any money on this drug when almost anybody (here or abroad) can make the amount of this so-called "drug" (it's a food additive!) they charge $55K/year for, so easy…

  7. Hello Mr. Giovannoni,I am very interesting in BG-12, because my mum had diagnosted SM 10 years ago. Is there some interval for MS patients, which have SM too long and BG-12 won´t effective?I am from Slovak republic, please do you know, where can the drug get to our country and can be availaible? It will be really so expensive? Is there possibility to participate as a patient in a research?I know, here is so many people, who need this drug, but alway when you read articles about new drug you get new hope..I would really apprepriate your answer.Thank you for all people, who are still waiting and hope..I apologize for my English..Best regardsLucia Púšová

    1. Dear LuciaYour English is fine and a lot better that my or Prof Gs Slovak.At present we do not know if BG-12 will have efficacy in progressive MS because this is not yet known, but if relapsing attacks are occurring then there is a possibility that the BG-12 will have some positive impact whether that is 1 or 10 years down the line/ I think the earlier you start such drigs the better… As to the cost it will no doubt be expensive and availability will depend on recommendations by the EMA. Prof G may be able to add more

  8. They make this stuff in 55 gal drums and use it for cheap manufacturing processes. How could it ever be worth $55k annual. It is a very easy molecule to prepare. I see a huge black market for this at those prices, just wait and see.

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