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Novartis Gilenya MS Pill to Cost $48,000 a Year

Novartis AG’s multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya will cost $4,000 a month in the U.S., according to a company spokesman.

Novartis has set a wholesale price at about $48,000 annually, Eric Althoff, a spokesman for the Basel, Switzerland- based company, said by e-mail. The company has programs to help patients with the cost of the drug, he said.


If Gilenya’s ingredient (fingolimod) costs $14 a month, why is Novartis wanting $4,000 a month for it? Check it out. Google “buy fingolimod” and you will find several companies that sell fingolimod for non-human research (so more applications can be found). At one company it costs $42.00 for 50mg. The Gilenya website says that the pills would be 0.05mg each day. That’s about 15mg a month. Simple math shows that we could all get fingolimod for about $14 a month if we were allowed to buy it that way. Based on their projected price of $4,000 a month, that’s a 285 times markup!
Gilenya is a cheap fungal metabolite that has been used in Chinese herbal medicine. Read the research: The Immune Modulator FTY720 Targets Sphingosine 1-Phosphate Receptors9, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 277, No. 24, Issue of June 14, pp. 21453-21457, 2002. You’ll find it online in pdf form. Novaris is the sponsor of the study at the college.
It is also my opinion that the $4,000 a month was figured by adding a thousand to the average $3,000 a month of the other therapies. They figure that no needles are worth $1,000 a month. The company line is that they are offering co-pay assistance. Of course they are! At $4,000 a month they can give out half-price coupons and still make a hefty profit. Another company line is that insurance will cover most of the cost. With 40% of Americans not insured, I wonder how many people with MS aren’t able to afford any therapy at all. My co-pay for Copaxone WITH my insurance is 25% or $777.10.
As much as I hate needles and as good as the product predicts to be, I suggest we all boycott Novartis’ Gilenya until they lower their price to at least $1,000 a month. That’s still exorbitant but they do have the clinical trials and their research to pay for. If half of the people with MS bought it for $1,000 they would recoup their money fast at over $166 million a month (175,000 people X ($1,000 -$50 costs)). Of course, all of the other MS therapy companies would be upset but if all of them have been setting their prices based on what the others are getting, it’s called price fixing. They call it marketing. For us it’s called crippling.
Gilenya is not an expensive biologic like Betaseron. I did use Betaseron and got drug-induced Lupus and had to change to Copaxone. At least Betaseron uses the overies of Guniea pigs (in China) and that requires high manufacturing costs (and yuk!). I can almost see the large manufacturing cost for Betaseron and other biologics but it looks like all of the other therapies base their price on Betaseron’s high price. I think the drug companies are really taking advantage of the fact that there is no cure and they’ve got us over a barrel.

eileenkq added this on Oct 25 10 at 10:08 pm

It is easy to be furious over the price of medications in general. As a fellow MSer I understand but, I am also a Registered Nurse and understand that the medication in the pill is more than just fingolimod. In order for this to become a isotonic substance and in order for it to pass threw the central nervous system a drug called mannitol must be added. without the mannitol you would be taking a drug that would never make it into the brain.I am not sure about the cost of the additives but, i know they cost more than $14. I hope this helps explain part of expense….not to mention research cost and pharmacutical profits are usually astronomical.

PamsaRN added this on Jun 12 11 at 4:22 pm

Sure, they need to recoup their research expenses but these numbers are crazy. Copaxone just went up this year to $4100. per month. This disease sucks but greedy pharmaceutical suck more.

derby98 added this on Jun 01 12 at 3:57 am

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