CAR-T Cell Therapy Price Sets Record in Switzerland

Novartis’ Kymriah will costs patients $374,828.50.

For the Swiss market, Novartis has set the price of its CAR-T cell therapy Kymriah for the treatment of certain refractory or relapsing cancers at CHF 370,000 ($374,828.50) for one intravenous treatment. That is a new record for the cost of a drug in the Swiss healthcare system. It is estimated that approximately 100 people per year could benefit from the cell therapy treatment.

Novartis recently filed a new patent application for Kymriah with the European Patent Office in Munich. Some believe that granting patent protection allows companies like Novartis to establish market monopolies and set unreasonably high prices for drugs based on underlying technology that is not novel or unique.

There is particular concern over CAR-T cell therapies because they are expected to become leading treatments for many types of cancers. The patentability of such drugs becomes an important issue because, if granted, such high prices will continue, and, with large numbers of patients seeking to receive these extremely expensive drugs, healthcare systems could be overburdened.

The group Public Eye and Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) is formally opposing one of the Kymriah patents granted by the European Patent Office because it says the treatment was developed through university research and public funding, and therefore not really invented by Novartis. The decisions made by the patent office in Munich are also legally binding in Switzerland. The group believes that rejection of the patent application would set a precedent and establish a policy that would counter the abuse of intellectual property rights in order to help prevent drug prices from continuing to rise at an unacceptable rate.

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