Marathon to charge $89,000 for DMD drug after 70-fold increase
Marathon Pharmaceuticals will charge $89,000 annually for its Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug in the United States. The drug, deflazacort, has been available in Europe for years at just a fraction of that cost.
Marathon Pharmaceuticals will charge $89,000 annually for its Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug in the United States. The drug, deflazacort, has been available in Europe for years at just a fraction of that cost. The corticosteroid had not been sold in this country in part because no company thought it would be profitable enough to warrant the effort of seeking FDA clearance. However, U.S. patients have been importing the drug from foreign countries since the 1990s, after clinical studies demonstrated its potential for reducing inflammation with fewer adverse effects than another steroid. Advocates for people with DMD say Marathon's price for Emflaza is as much as 70 times higher than what most U.S. patients now pay to purchase deflazacort from an Internet pharmacy in the United Kingdom. That pharmacy recently informed customers that it would stop shipping the drug to the United States after Marathon received FDA approval for its version. The pharmacy said it was ending the shipments "in compliance with U.S. FDA regulations," which prohibit drug importation except under certain circumstances, such as when a drug is not available in the United States. In an interview, Marathon CFO Babar Ghias noted the company will likely receive much less in net revenue than the list price, after providing discounts to government insurers and financial support to patients who cannot afford the medication. In addition, he said, more patients will have access because their insurance companies will start covering the drug now that it has received FDA approval.