FDA Approves Revolutionary Cancer Drug. Price? $373,000

Screengrab/Kite Pharma CAR-T/YouTube

Yescarta will be used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that is expected to cause over 20,000 deaths this year.

A new gene therapy treatment for people suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Yescarta, which will treat adults with large B-cell lymphoma, carries a price tag of $373,000, according to its manufacturer, Gilead.

Via Reuters:

The price is well below that of the first drug in this new class - Novartis AG’s (NOVN.S) $475,000 Kymriah. The Novartis gene therapy was approved in August for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer in the United States.

The high price of CAR-Ts is igniting a new debate over the rising cost of prescription drugs. Novartis said it would charge for Kymriah only if patients responded within a month of the treatment, but Gilead is not following suit.

Gilead estimates that 7,500 lymphoma patients in the U.S. will be eligible each year for CAR-T therapy.

According to the American Cancer Association, approximately 72,240 people will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma this year, and over a quarter will die from it.

CAR-T therapies have shown much promise.

In a pivotal clinical trial of more than 100 adults, 51 percent of patients treated with Yescarta achieved complete remission, far higher than what is typical with current standard-of-care treatments.