[Ip-health] New MS Drug: 29,000 Times the Price of Gold

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Thu Oct 17 02:48:56 PDT 2013


Will Margaret Chan still regard BigPharma differently from tobacco 
companies?

Press Release, October 17, 2013
Coalition against Bayer Dangers

*Alemtuzumab authorised for treating MS*

29,000 Times the Price of Gold

*For a decade, the active ingredient Alemtuzumab (then trade name: 
MabCampath) was used to treat leukaemia. In order to increase profits, 
this indication was abandoned last year. The drug was authorised for the 
treatment of MS under the new name Lemtrada and is now being sold for a 
significantly higher price.*

In September, the EU commission issued an authorisation to the company 
Genzyme 
<http://genzyme.newshq.businesswire.com/press-release/european-commission-approves-genzymes-multiple-sclerosis-treatment-lemtrada-alemtuzuma>for 
treating Multiple Sclerosis with the active ingredient Alemtuzumab. 
Genzyme is part of the pharmaceutical enterprise Sanofi. The company 
Bayer was involved in the development of Alemtuzumab and receives a 
share of the profits.

Last year the drug was taken off the market as an anti-cancer 
medication, even though it is an effective treatment option for some 
forms of leukaemia. This decision seems illogical at first sight, but 
there is a reason for it: in the whole of Europe, only a few thousand 
patients need the drug against leukaemia. The market for MS medication 
is far more promising: there are over 130,000 patients in Germany alone, 
and at least 2.5 million globally.

Yet, a far smaller dose is needed for the treatment of MS – between 30 
and 60 mg per year. 1,100 mg are needed to treat leukaemia. If an active 
ingredient is used for several types of application, it is forbidden to 
demand different prices for it, which caused a problem for the 
companies: if Alemtuzumab were to be sold at its old price, its use to 
treat MS would not bring them any large profits. Consequently, Sanofi 
and Bayer completely gave up the less profitable indication of leukaemia 
so they would be able to re-launch the product at a higher price later.

Sanofi has now announced that Alemtuzumab will be sold under the new 
name Lemtrada to treat Multiple Sclerosis. It is 29,000 times as 
expensive as gold: an injection bottle containing 12 mg 
costs €10,653.50, which is equivalent to €888 per mg. As an anti-cancer 
drug, Alemtuzumab used to cost €21 per mg, less than 1/40 of the new price.

Philipp Mimkes from the /Coalition/ /Against Bayer Dangers/, says: “Once 
again, it becomes obvious that Bayer, Sanofi and their equivalents only 
care about profits. The well-being of patients is considered less 
important. It also becomes apparent that the price format for drugs 
doesn’t have anything to do with the costs of their development: one 
drug may be sold for completely different prices depending what can be 
enforced on the market.”

The German pharmaceutical company Schering AG, which later merged with 
Bayer, was involved in the development of Alemtuzumab. Thanks to 
licensing agreements with Genzyme Bayer still profits from the marketing 
of the drug. In their latest business report it said: ‘We will share in 
the future success of Lemtrada through possible royalty payments, 
milestone payments and global co-promotion.’

Coalition against BAYER Dangers
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Advisory Board *
Prof. Juergen Junginger, designer
Prof. Dr. Juergen Rochlitz, chemist, former member of the German parliament
Wolfram Esche, attorney
Dr. Sigrid Müller, pharmacologist
Dr. Angela Spelsberg, head of cancer clinic Aaachen
Prof. Rainer Roth, social scientist
Eva Bulling-Schroeter, member of the German parliament
Prof. Dr. Anton Schneider, biologist
Dr. Janis Schmelzer, historian,
Dr. Erika Abczynski, pediatrician

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