Provenge scrips hit 500 as payers agree to pay

Dendreon has reason to cheer. Its launch of the prostate cancer vaccine Provenge is going well, with sales growing at a quick clip and, more importantly, key payers deciding they'll cover the cost. Considering that Provenge's list price is $93,000, that's quite a cost.

Revenues from Provenge doubled month over month, to $5.2 million in July from $2.5 million in June, the company announced. "We see strong demand in the clinics where we are providing Provenge," COO Hans Bishop told analysts on a conference call.

Meanwhile, as CEO Mitchell Gold pointed out, positive reimbursement opinions are rolling in. This is good news for the company, especially after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would be reviewing Provenge reimbursement. Not only have private insurers such as Aetna, Humana and Kaiser said they'll pay for the vaccine, but so have a majority of local Medicare contractors, Gold said.

Dendreon's manufacturing capacity is something of a bottleneck; the company has said it can only supply 2,000 patients during Provenge's first 12 months on the market, which is about two percent of potential demand. Already, docs have written 500 prescriptions for Provenge, leaving 1,500 up for grabs. But Dendreon officials say they're on track with their push to ramp up manufacturing, too. We'll keep you posted.

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