New immune-boosting drugs like Merck ‘s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers SquibbBMY 0.00%’s Opdivo are changing the game for cancer patients, but their six-figure-per-year price tags have raised eyebrows among payers worldwide.
“Antibody drugs are being priced at $120,000 to $150,000 a year. Noweveryone’s talking about combination treatments, but when you combine twoantibodies at $150,000 a year each, that becomes prohibitive,” Fattaey says.
Curis expects to begin clinical development of the immuno-oncology drug,which targets a relative of PD-1 called PD-L1, by the end of the year.
The scientists from Curis and Aurigene are far from the only ones looking toimprove upon drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo.
Small molecule drugs could prove even more valuable as combination immuno-oncology treatments start to take hold, Fattaey contends.
Although Curis has yet to announce its targets for its experimental drug,inhibiting PD-L1 has proven a particularly promising approach in lung cancer,bladder cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he says.
Curis‘ efforts come amidst a broad push to lower the cost of cancer drugs.
All of the new cancer drugs approved in 2014 cost $120,000 a year or more,according to an editorial authored by 100 angry oncologists in last month’sedition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Convincing payers around the world to cover cutting-edge cancer drugs remainsa challenge.