09

Feb

New Muscular Dystrophy Drug Costs $89K Per Year

Deflazacort

A groundbreaking drug to treat muscular dystrophy will hit U.S. markets this year, but it comes with a staggering price tag.

Fox News that reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved the drug this month made by Marathon Pharmaceuticals LLC. The corticosteroid, marketed as deflazacort, isn’t a cure for muscular dystrophy but has been shown to increase muscle strength. It’s designed to treat a specific form of the condition that affects 12,000 American boys, most of whom will die in their 20s and 30s.

The cost? $89,000 per year.

The price set by Marathon, based in Northbrook, Ill., is 50 to 70 times what most U.S. patients now pay to buy deflazacort from an online pharmacy in the United Kingdom, according to advocates for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

This isn’t the first time outrageous prices have been implemented for life-saving drugs. Pharmaceutical company Biogen developed Spinraza, the first drug to treat a rare spinal disorder called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), will cost patients a whopping $750,000 in the first year of treatment. The price drops after that — to a mere $375,000 a year for subsequent years.

The drug company argues the first year is so expensive because it requires six treatments. The medication was approved by the FDA in December, and praised by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Cure SMA as the first and only approved treatment for SMA.