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The $2.1 Million Question: What Are The Medical, Ethical Implications Of The World’s Priciest Drug? | Forbes

With last month’s FDA approval, Zolgensma became the world’s most expensive medication. Priced at $2.125 million per patient, the one-dose gene therapy is a potential life-saver for children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Now, the treatment is at the center of an intensifying debate over the rising price of medications.

Industry watchdogs are outraged. They say Zolgensma is merely the latest example of unethical and monopolistic pricing strategies among drug manufacturers.

In a Bloomberg op-ed titled No Miracle Drug Should Cost $2.1 Million, Dr. Peter Bach wrote that it’s wrong for Novartis and other pharmaceutical companies to price “orphan drugs” (medications for rare diseases) at whatever the market will bear.

“The drug industry will argue, as it always does, that unlimited and rapidly escalating prices are needed to recoup the costs of R&D,” Bach noted. However, Novartis neither researched nor developed Zolgensma. It simply acquired AveXis (the firm that did) for a price that Novartis will recoup in relative short order, according to analysts.

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The $2.1 Million Question: What Are The Medical, Ethical Implications Of The World’s Priciest Drug?.

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