Skyrocketing MS markets in the US: time for legislature?

23rd August 2017 (Last Updated August 23rd, 2017 18:30)

The multiple sclerosis (MS) pharmaceutical market has increased in the last ten years due to breakthrough immunomodulatory drugs.

The multiple sclerosis (MS) pharmaceutical market has increased in the last ten years due to breakthrough immunomodulatory drugs.

Patients now benefit from a wide range of treatment options that effectively manage the condition by reducing the rate of disease progression.

The success of these drugs is represented by the global revenues, which have increased by more than $13bn, from $5.4bn in 2006 to $18.4bn in 2016

Clampdown on Copaxone

The success of MS drugs has been shrouded by controversy. A probe into the MS drug pricing of major companies Bayer, Biogen, Merck, Novartis, Sanofi, Teva, and Roche has shown that several drugs have inflated in price over the years.

Two of the largest price hikes have seen Teva’s Copaxone and Biogen’s Avonex increase by more than 800% to $91,404 and $86,308 respectively.

Legislature Likely?

Congress has a lot of proposals for reigning in Big Pharma and drug pricing, with the majority aiming to tackle the high cost of prescription drugs within the country.

These include accelerating the approval of generic drugs, giving advanced notice for drug price increases, importing lower cost drugs from Canada, and permitting negotiations within government for the pricing of Medicare.

However, years of scrutiny and debate on these issues have so far delayed the passing of pharmaceutical legislature.

Having previously taken a provocative stance on the pharmaceutical industry, Donald Trump's administration is now issuing a favorable executive order for pharmaceutical companies. It is highly possible that drug prices may not be the focus of this order, which has been met with disappointment from Cummings and Welch, who carried out the MS pricing probe.

Turning the Tide

It may now fall to the pharmaceutical companies themselves to reverse the trend and take action on spiraling drug prices.

In March, Roche announced that new entry to the MS market Ocrevus would be priced at a discount to competitors by 25%.

A spokesperson for the company cited the rising drug prices within the disease area as a key reason for this decision.

Either way, those connected to the industry will be keen to see whether the investigations will translate into passable legislature, and whether drugs for other indications are guilty of similar price increases.