Novartis Leukemia Drug May Have a Huge Price Tag

Aug. 24, 2017

Novartis’ breakthrough leukemia therapy, if approved, is predicted to be one of the expensive cancer treatments on the market.

The treatment, CTL019, belongs to a new class of drugs called CAR T-cell therapies, and has been tested in patients whose leukemia has relapsed in spite of chemotherapy or a bone-marrow transplant. Earlier this summer, Novartis announced the unanimous recommendation of CTL019 by the U.S. FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee. The FDA is scheduled to make a decision by Oct 3.

Clinical trial results show that 83% of those treated with Novartis' CAR T-cell therapy have gone into remission.

Novartis has yet to announce a price, but advocacy groups are already lobbying for fair pricing, as many share the opinion that Novartis drug has the potential to be one of the most expensive drugs ever sold. In a recent cost-effectiveness study on pioneering CAR-T therapies, British health authorities suggested a price of $649,000 for a one-time CAR-T treatment is justified.

Read the Kaiser Health News coverage