Convenience, type of treatment can factor into drug success rate

When asking a six-figure price for a new drug, effectiveness alone won’t always lead to success in the marketplace, according to one consultant.

When asking a six-figure price for a new drug, effectiveness alone won’t always lead to success in the marketplace, according to one consultant.

“There is some additional subtlety between drugs that are high priced in whether they’re convenient for the patient and whether they fit in with what the doctors are doing,” said Michael D. Becker, who runs a biopharmaceutical consultancy, M.D. Becker Partners.

As a case in point, Becker points to two cancer drugs that made headlines last year for their price tags.

Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s skin-cancer drug, costs about $120,000 for a full course of treatment — about 30 percent more than Dendreon’s prostate cancer drug, Provenge, which checks in at $93,000. Yet Yervoy has done well in the market, while Provenge has thus far failed to gain traction.

Becker said one likely reason is that Provenge can be a hassle for patients. Each round of treatment involves drawing blood from the patient. The extracted blood cells are then sent off-site where a custom dose of Provenge is made, and administered days later.

Yervoy still requires an initial blood test, but after that, it’s administered intravenously, similar to other cancer treatments.

“Even a drug that has a higher cost can do quite well if it fits in with what the physician and patients are already doing,” Becker said.

 

E-mail to: jkaltwasser@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @JaredKaltwasser

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