What’s the going rate for curing blindness?
How does $850,000 sound?
That’s what Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna will cost for a one-time treatment to treat a rare retinal disease called retinal dystrophy that can lead to blindness.
“This one-time gene therapy for an inherited disease represents a first-of-its-kind breakthrough that may lay the groundwork for the development of gene therapies for other conditions that are not adequately addressed today,” said Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, chief executive officer at Spark Therapeutics.
The Philadelphia-based biotech company had its treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December.
“It’s wildly expensive but, to be very frank, I think they’ve priced it what I’ll call responsibly,” Dr. Steve Miller, chief medical officer of pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, told CNBC. “The product is just phenomenally innovative, and we’ve been talking about gene therapy for over 20 years. We’re now at the threshold of having gene therapy reaching patients.”
Spark estimates about 1,000 to 2,000 people are affected in the U.S.
The company is also working on results-based payment plans where rebates would be offered if the treatment doesn’t work, according to Forbes. It’s also pursuing a payment plan that could be spread over several years because of the high cost of the treatment.