Saturday, August 06, 2016

Buying and Selling Life

Hundreds of cancer physicians recently took to the pages of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings to angrily protest the fact that with the cost of cancer medicines now averaging over $100,000, one in five of their patients can't afford to fill their prescriptions. The physicians are not the only ones who are angry. A Kaiser Health Tracking poll last year showed that 72 percent of Americans felt that drug prices were unreasonable, and even more believe drug companies put profits before people.

Prostate cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the US, affecting nearly 3 million men and causing over 26,000 deaths annually. Xtandi is used to treat what is known as castration-resistant prostate cancer, a relapse of the disease that is both more deadly and more treatment-resistant than early stages of the cancer.

All of which has been very good news for patent owners Astellas Pharma and Xtandi's co-developer, the biopharmaceutical company Medivation. Global sales of the drug in 2015 were $1.87 billion. The US market accounts for the majority of Xtandi revenues, with Medicare alone paying $633 million in 2015, at a rate of over $100,000 per Xtandi patient per year. Thanks to price increases and an aging population, those sales numbers have climbed steadily upward, and there is every reason to believe the trend will continue. The discovery of Xtandi was conducted at UCLA, which earlier this year sold its rights to the drug for over a half-billion dollars, the largest technology transfer deal in University of California history. Astellas and Medivation hold the monopoly patent on Xtandi until at least 2027.

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