US health regulators this week approved the first gene therapy for hemophilia, a $3.5 million one-time treatment for the blood-clotting disorder. From a report: The Food and Drug Administration cleared Hemgenix, an IV treatment for adults with hemophilia B, the less common form of the genetic disorder which primarily affects men. Currently, patients receive frequent, expensive IVs of a protein that helps blood clot and prevent bleeding. Drugmaker CSL Behring, based in Pennsylvania, announced the $3.5 million price tag shortly after the FDA approval, saying its drug would ultimately reduce health care costs because patients would have fewer bleeding incidents and need fewer clotting treatments.
According to a study cited by the National Library of Medicine, the price makes Hemgenix the most expensive medicine in the world, easily topping Novartis’ Zolgensma gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which costs right around $2 million per dose and is also a single-dose medicine. Like most medicines in the US, most of the cost of the new treatment will be paid by insurers, not patients, including private plans and government programs. After decades of research, gene therapies have begun reshaping the treatment of cancers and rare hereditary diseases with medicines that can modify or correct mutations embedded in people’s genetic code. Hemgenix is the first such treatment for hemophilia and several other drugmakers are working on gene therapies for the more common form of the disorder, hemophilia A.