Sanofi and Regeneron Cut Price of Cholesterol Med Praluent by About 60 Percent
A year ago, in March 2018, Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals dropped the price of their cholesterol drug, Praluent, to help it gain traction in the market. Both Praluent and Amgen’s Repatha are PCSK9 inhibitors, but have had problems building market share, largely because of price. Both of the drugs until the price cuts ran about $14,000 for a year’s supply.
Now, Sanofi and Regeneron, following Amgen dropping the price of Repatha in October 2018, have dropped Praluent to $5,850 a year. This is about a 60-percent reduction from the original price for both the 75 mg and 150 mg doses. The new prices will kick in early March.
“We were encouraged to see improvements in accessibility following our collaboration with payers last year to provide more straightforward, affordable access to Praluent, but only some patients had reduced out-of-pocket costs,” stated Michelle Carnahan, North American Head of Primary Care Business Unit at Sanofi. “With today’s announcement, we are looking to help bridge that gap, and have now made Praluent available at a price that is approximately 60 percent lower. We hope that payers will do their part to help ensure savings are directly passed on to more patients, through lower out-of-pocket costs.”
In addition to the high prices, both drugs’ sales have, as Reuters reports, “been severely constrained by onerous roadblocks to patient access put up by insurers looking to limit spending on the expensive drugs.”
In March 2018, Regeneron and Sanofi agreed to drop the price if insurers reduced barriers for high-risk cardiac patients. Several months later they signed a deal with Express Scripts, now part of Cigna Corp., to provide the drug to Express Scripts’ customers at a price range of $4,500 to $6,600 a year.
Sanofi and Regeneron indicate that with the newer pricing, most Medicare Part D patients will pay between $25 to $150 per month, a possible savings of up to $345, varying from insurance plan to insurance plan. And eligible patients will continue to have access to copay assistance via MyPraluent.
“For illustrative purposes only, this calculation of monthly savings (e.g., 2 Praluent doses) assumes a scenario where Praluent is on a specialty tier with 33 percent co-insurance and Praluent then moves to preferred brand tier co-pay of $25. Individual savings will vary according to play,” stated Leonard S. Schleifer, president and chief executive officer of Regeneron.
The PCSK9 inhibitors, both of which were approved in 2015, are largely focused on patients who don’t respond to diet, exercise and the far more affordable statin drugs. Statins, such as Pfizer’s Lipitor, typically are priced at about $50 per month.
There has been speculation that these efforts to get PCSK9 inhibitors broader market share would lead to a price war, particularly as more companies bring on alternatives to statins.
Esperion plans to submit its bempedoic acid for LDL-C cholesterol to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first half of this year. The Medicines Company is working to develop its own PCSK9 inhibitor, inclisiran, which is currently in Phase III trials.