Vertex ‘will make $21bn from treating cystic fibrosis’ from ‘unaffordable’ drug

The US company, Vertex who make cystic fibrosis drugs, is refusing to drop the price of its products, claiming that it has invested billions into research and must charge a high price to cut losses and invest in future drugs. At present, Orkambi, a life-changing cystic fibrosis drug, is unaffordable to the NHS. Parents have been campaigning to get access to the drugs for their children with cystic fibrosis. In a paper written by Aidan Hollis, Professor of Economics at Calgary University, Canada, Vertex is estimated to make £17 billion ($21.2 bn) from Orkambi and Kalydeco – their two cystic fibrosis drugs, over the lifetime of the two drugs.

Vertex’s prices mean that it would cost £104,000 per patient per year for Orkambi and the company’s accounts show product revenues in the second quarter of 2019 up 25% from last year. Vertex is currently developing a new drug containing both the previous drugs and a third element. The new drug is estimated to help 90% of cystic fibrosis sufferers, whereas the current drugs only help a small proportion.

NHS England said: “NHS has made two of the most generous offers of its kind to this company and intensive work continues on a daily basis but the quickest way for patients to get access to Orkambi is still for Vertex to accept our offer and engage with Nice,” said a spokesperson.

Full story in The Guardian, 12 August 2019

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