I’m not buying it

I’m not buying it

Here’s the lead paragraph from a story in today’s Boston Globe (’83 law called big boost for rare-disease drugs):

More drug companies are embracing the challenge of creating therapies for rare diseases, despite the pint-size potential markets for those drugs.

Please! With drugs for rare disorders priced at $100,000 or more per patient per year, revenues for individual drugs such as Cerezyme can approach $1 billion annually, even with just a few thousand patients. That’s not “pint sized.”

The impetus for the article was PhRMA’s release of a report touting the many drugs in development and recently approved for rare diseases. The implication is that developers’ motivations are charitable — that drug companies are somehow foregoing more profitable opportunities to help out the “orphans.” While the typical drug developer is well intentioned, the primary explanation for the focus on orphan drugs is financial.

If a significant percentage of the drugs PhRMA touts actually make it to market, their steep price tag is going to be a killer for health care budgets.

May 1, 2006

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