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 Big Pharma Giant Withdraws Major MS Drug, Increases Price by 20 Times

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Posts : 7979
Join date : 2012-05-29
Location : Manchester UK

PostSubject: Big Pharma Giant Withdraws Major MS Drug, Increases Price by 20 Times   Wed 17 Oct 2012, 13:41

Big Pharma Giant Withdraws Major MS Drug, Increases Price by 20 Times

Lisa Garber
Activist Post

Corporate greed trumps noble intentions yet again in the world of Big
Pharma. Sanofi, the world’s fourth-largest pharmaceutical company,
recently withdrew the leukemia drug Alemtuzumab after 20 years of
prescribing it, off label, to treat multiple sclerosis patients. Sanofi
and subsidiary Genzyme cite intentions to apply for appropriate
licensing—but before you applaud the companies for following
regulations, keep in mind that they intend to rebrand and raise the cost
of Alemtuzumab—by 15 to 20 times.

Off label Use

Prescribing drugs according to a physician’s instinct (or pocketbook)
rather than according to the drug’s license is known as “off label” use.
While perhaps deservedly frowned upon, neurologists began prescribing
Alemtuzumab off label to MS sufferers after the New England Journal of Medicine published
study results favoring alemtuzumab over another drug in the treatment
of MS. Alemtuzumab also costs less, requiring two courses over two

Genzyme, however, will change that by rebranding alemtuzumab as Lemtrada
and raising prices, halting supplies in the meantime because “any
adverse event outside a clinical trial…may complicate the regulatory
<blockquote class="tr_bq">'Until approved
risk-management programs are established,' a Genzyme spokesperson
continues, 'the use of Lemtrada for MS should occur only in clinical
trials.'</blockquote>“Shows Little Regard for Patients”

Many neurologists have written letters of protest to the UK’s Health
Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. According to professors Neil Scolding, Neil
Robertson, and John Zajicek, UK patients with MS in the middle of
treatment with alemtuzumab will “not be able to get their vital second
course.” New patients would “miss their window of therapeutic
opportunity,” as well.

Regarding the rebranding and price increase, the professors add,
<blockquote class="tr_bq">It shows little regard for patients whose
opportunity to alter the course of their disease is time-limited, and
may represent an over-enthusiastic attempt by the parent company to
profit from the current situation.</blockquote>Money Matters

Genzyme’s parent company, Sanofi, is certainly not short in profits,
which last year amounted up to nearly €6 billion (roughly $7.8 billion).

Sanofi isn’t the first pharmaceutical giant to use drugs’ supposed
efficacy to make unwarranted profits to the detriment of patients,
either. GlaxoSmithKline paid celebrity doctors
like Dr. Drew to push harmful antidepressants for off label uses
(including unfounded claims of weight management and erectile
dysfunction), and Pfizer is undergoing clinical trials
of Xalkori to treat a rare form of lung cancer—for over $100,000 per
patient. Similarly to the initial case, KV pharmaceutical company offers
a drug known as Makena which is meant to reduce the risk for premature
births. But good luck using it if you’re interested, as the company
recently raised the price from $10 to $1,500 per dose.

Earlier this year, however, Canadian and British scientists found that
vitamin D—whether acquired through sunshine or supplements—may help
prevent MS by affecting the gene that raises risk of MS development.

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