August 23, 2011

Seattle Genetics Cancer Drug May Cost Over $100,000

Adcetris, manufactured by Seattle Genetics, a new treatment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma and the first approved treatment for Hodgkin´s lymphoma since 1977, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA).

Seattle Genetics told Reuters on Monday that the drug will cost $4,500 dollars per vial. Patients generally received three vials per dose and between seven and nine doses per treatment, putting the price at $94,500 to $121,500 per patient, within Wall Street´s predicted range. The high price has upset some patient groups.

“I think you get a reason for push-back (against highly priced cancer drugs) because many of these cancer drugs are really not that effective but in this case I think it´s one of the most effective drugs out there,” Leerink Swann analyst Howard Liang told Reuters about Adcetris.

He also told Reuters, “I would think that the pricing is high, but it´s not outrageous compared to other cancer drugs.”

The drug was approved through a special FDA program that accelerates the approval process to six-months. This program is reserved for those drugs that show promising early results. In the Hodgkin´s Lymphoma study of 102 patients, 73 percent of patients taking the drug saw their tumors shrink or disappear. The patients responded to the drug for more than six months.

Fifty-eight patients were in the Large Cell Lymphoma study. Eighty-six percent of patients responded to the drug for over one year on average, according to the AP.

The accelerated approval process has come under fire in the last year after multiple follow-up studies showed the Breast Cancer drug Avastin did not extend breast cancer patient´s lives. The approval for Avastin was based on a single study. The FDA is in the process of removing Avastin´s indication, Roche the manufacturer of Avastin has appealed the decision.

Seattle Genetics is working with the FDA on a follow-up study to confirm its original trials, according to the AP. Seattle Genetics will market the drug in the US, while Takeda Group holds the license to market to the rest of the world.


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