Bristol-Myers puts a blockbuster $142K price on new cancer med Empliciti

After winning FDA approval Monday, the latest multiple myeloma treatment--Empliciti, from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and AbbVie ($ABBV)--is about to hit the scene. And like its rivals in the field, it'll be pricey.

The ongoing monthly cost of the new med, to be used in combination with Celgene's ($CELG) Revlimid and dexamethasone, is about $10,000, Bristol-Myers Squibb spokeswoman Audrey Abernathy told FiercePharma in an emailed statement. Along with a two-month induction period, that figure puts the first-year annual cost of the drug at about $142,000 in the U.S.

BMS based the decision on the value Empliciti will deliver to patients and society, the number of patients affected by the disease, and negotiations with payers and local authorities, Abernathy said, noting that the company would work to help patients gain Empliciti access "in cases of affordability issues."

That price tag puts the drug in line for potential blockbuster revenues, according to E.B. Capital Markets' Todd Campbell, who owns shares in rival Celgene. After all, the cost of Empliciti falls between that of Revlimid--at $14,000 per month--and the $9,000-per-month Velcade from Takeda.

But whether it can crack the blockbuster barrier depends on the reaction from payers, who may not love the idea of using Empliciti--approved for patients who have already tried between one and three other therapies--in the second-line setting, Campbell notes. Instead, they may urge doctors to relegate it to third-line use, which could hurt its sales potential.

And in that arena, it'll be facing plenty of competition. Amgen's ($AMGN) Kyprolis and Celgene's ($CELG) Pomalyst have been duking it out in the third-line setting, with Kyprolis in July winning a coveted second-line nod. And earlier this month, U.S. regulators approved Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Darzalex for patients who have received at least three prior treatments; that med, with a list price of $135,550 for the first year, is set to undercut the $147,302 Pomalyst.

Empliciti and Darzalex were not the only two myeloma meds to snag the FDA's favor in November. Mid-month, the agency green-lighted Takeda's Ninlaro, a once-weekly pill to be used with Revlimid and dexamethasone for patients who have received at least one prior therapy.

- read the release
- get more from Campbell

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