Campath gets pulled to clear the way for higher-priced Lemtrada | Fierce Pharma

The speculation about Genzyme's Campath is over. The company, now a unit of Sanofi ($SNY), is pulling the plug. Why? To prepare the way for Lemtrada, a multiple sclerosis treatment that is, essentially, Campath by another name.

Genzyme has been developing Campath-slash-Lemtrada for MS, hoping to become a big player in that disease area. But MS drugs such as Biogen Idec's ($BIIB) Tysabri and Novartis' ($NVS) Gilenya have price tags much higher than Campath's, at least at the dosage used by those patients.

In fact, as Datamonitor has reported, Campath for leukemia treatment runs $60,000 per year in the U.S. MS patients need a fraction of the cancer dosage, and so under that pricing scheme, the drug would cost just $6,000 per year. Tysabri, on the other hand, costs $55,000 per year, closer to the cost of Campath for cancer.

So, the question has been how Sanofi could distance Lemtrada from Campath, so that the company could command a higher price for the MS doses--and prevent cheaper, off-label use of Campath in those patients.

Answer? Get rid of Campath altogether. As Sanofi readies for a possible Lemtrada launch next year--it's awaiting U.S. and European approval now--the company is already withdrawing Campath in some European countries. The decision will be effective in the U.S. Sept. 4, Reuters reports.

"We think that this stoppage shows Sanofi's confidence in the approval of Lemtrada in multiple sclerosis," Bryan Garnier analyst Eric Le Berrigaud told Reuters, not to mention allowing Sanofi to charge an MS-market price for Lemtrada.

Campath won't disappear completely, however. It will still be available through patient access programs in 50 countries, Genzyme told the news service. "In most countries we will provide the drug for free, where this is permitted," the spokesman said.

Campath brought in $76 million last year. By contrast, Lemtrada is expected to grow to $400 million to $600 million by 2018.

- see the Reuters news
- get more from Datamonitor