The high price of orphan drugs – CCAB Chief Scientific Officer interviewed by CBC
Update – October 2, 2017
On September 27, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board ordered Alexion Pharmaceuticals to lower the price of eculizumab (Soliris). The drug treats two rare blood diseases and can cost $750,000 per patient per year. Read more.
In June 2017, Dr. Sachdev Sidhu was interviewed by CBC Radio’s The Current about orphan drugs and drug pricing, in the context of eculizumab (Soliris). The program featured an interview with a patient who is taking eculizumab, who had to clear many hurdles to be approved for help in paying for the drug. Treatment costs $750,000 per year. Eculizumab is used to treat a rare chronic blood disease.
Dr. Sidhu highlighted the fact that the public should be better informed by drug companies about what justifies such high prices when the costs of producing these types of antibody drugs has substantially decreased in the last few years, thanks to new technology. He also noted that academic institutions, which conduct research that greatly contributes to knowledge used for drug development, must themselves do a better job of translating that knowledge into health solutions.
The translation of academic research into health solutions was the motivating factor which led to the establishment of CCAB. CCAB aims to capitalize on the outstanding research from academic labs and help translate it into marketable products, with associated health and economic benefits for Canadians.
Listen to the interview (Dr. Sidhu segment starts at 07:15)
Dr. Sidhu first commented on the high price of Soliris in June 2015 when he was featured on the CBC’s news program The National. Watch the segment