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