Two drugs, two price-setting tales

As governments worldwide slash prices on prescription meds, drugmakers in the U.S. are raising them. Cancer specialist Celgene ($CELG) has raised the price of its Revlimid pill for multiple myeloma by another 4.5 percent, just the latest in a series of Revlimid hikes. Meanwhile, Dainippon Sumitomo plans to slap a $14 per dose price tag on its new antipsychotic drug Latuda.

First, Celgene: Revlimid accounts for more than half of its 2009 revenue of $2.7 billion. One of the ways the company has been growing sales is by instituting a series of price increases. Celgene tells Dow Jones that increases usually are pegged to inflation, but the CPI hasn't grown anywhere close to 4.5 percent this year. Wells Fargo analyst Brian Abrahams had projected a price hike of about 1 percent in the U.S., Dow Jones says, compared with expected double-digit decreases in Europe.

Dainippon's pricing on Latuda is predicated on its safety profile, the company says, which also must be its selling point in a market that is already crowded with atypical antipsychotics, including low-cost generics. "Products like (AstraZeneca's) Seroquel and (Eli Lilly's) Zyprexa, which are market leading products, cause significant weight gain, lipid and glucose issues," Dainippon unit Sunovion's COO Mark Iwicki told Reuters. "And our profile on those cardiovascular risk issues look very, very good."

A price of $14 a dose would put annual treatment at $5,000. Still, as Reuters points out, that's not as expensive as the other new antipsychotic, Vanda Pharmaceuticals' Fanapt.

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