Biogen Idec has a wonderful new pill to treat Multiple Sclerosis

Biogen Idec said…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…

Biogen Idec…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 operative phrase in economics is – Take what the market can bear!

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…

Health insurance covers most of the cost of the drug for the majority of patients. But Biogen Idec, like other drug makers, sponsors patient assistance programs to help pay for the drugs in cases where all or part of the cost is not covered by private or public payers.

What that means to ordinary human beings who need the treatment is that there is more than enough room in the profit structure to lower the price. When Big Pharma feel the need to to maintain sales targets.

Executive VP, Tony Kingsley said Biogen officials will be talking to commercial and government insurers over the next six to nine months about the clinical benefits of Tecfidera and its potential to lower overall medical expenses by keeping MS patients out of the hospital.

We’re days away from getting the product to patients, which we’re very excited about,” he said.

Like pretty much any medication for serious illness, Biogen will tailor the price to match national market demographics. That swing can be as much as 400% or more. Our government will back them up by working hard at preventing Americans from buying the pill in other countries.

You, too, can be arrested for trying to stay alive – and reducing pharmaceutical industry profits.

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