Product News and Recalls

Review Group Says New Cholesterol Drugs Too Expensive

new drugs criticized for high pricesAccording to an NBC News report, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), an independent, non-profit organization that analyzes clinical and cost effectiveness in new medicines, has taken issue with the price of two recently approved cholesterol drugs. The medications, which belong to a new class of cholesterol drugs called proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors, are Sanofi and Regeneron’s Praluent and Amgen’s Repatha. Pharmaceutical experts believe the drugs will provide an alternative treatment to cholesterol patients who have not had success with statins, such as Pfizer’s controversial Lipitor.

Between 1996 and 2011, Lipitor was prescribed to over 29 million men and women in the United States, raking in $125 billion for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. So it was not surprising when a proportionately large number of Lipitor lawsuits began pouring in after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 2012 that Lipitor may lead to increased blood sugar, particularly in postmenopausal women. Today there are over 2,000 Lipitor lawsuits pending in the federal court system, and this number is expected to increase as the first trial is scheduled to start in November. All federal Lipitor lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Lipitor plaintiffs claim that Pfizer’s drug increases the risk of diabetes more in women than in men, and that female user benefit less from Lipitor’s cholesterol-lowering effects.

PCSK9 inhibitors’ price point has been a hot-button issue ever since the drugs gained approval from the FDA. Praluent was announced with a staggering $14,600 a year price tag, and Repatha followed with a comparable $14,100 annual fee. While not expected to sell in as great a volume as Lipitor did, these drugs may very well exceed the blockbuster statin’s earnings in a matter of years.

ICER has called for a more realistic pricing of the new cholesterol drugs. The organization states “that the price that best represents the overall benefits” of PCSK9 inhibitors is between $3,615 and $4,811 a year—less than half of what the drugs currently cost. As NBC News notes, ICER concluded that “it would take a further price reduction to an annual cost of $2,177 in order to not have to try to limit patient use to keep overall health care cost growth within bounds.”

Speak to your doctor or physician before making any changes to your treatment plan. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with diabetes after using Lipitor, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation with an experienced pharmaceutical lawyer. You may be eligible to receive compensation through a Lipitor lawsuit.