Catalyst defends $375,000 drug price after Bernie Sanders rebuke

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference on Yemen resolution on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

(Reuters) – Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Inc, targeted by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for its high drug prices, said on Thursday that prices of its treatment for a rare neurological disorder were “in line” with similar products in the industry.

Sanders had earlier this month written to the Florida-based drugmaker asking it to justify its $375,000-per-year price for Firdapse, a medication that for years has been available for free.

The company said that Firdapse’s price was similar to other products that provide a significant clinical benefit in treating ultra-rare diseases like Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS), a rare neuromuscular disorder.

It said the pricing was also in line to properly compensate companies for costs associated with developing and marketing such a drug.

Catalyst said it spends “millions of dollars per year” evaluating Firdapse in clinical trials testing it in other diseases.

The company said it believed the drug, approved in November last year, would be widely reimbursed by insurers for the small population it treats.

Physicians can write a prescription where Firdapse will be delivered to a patient’s door and in most cases at an out-of-pocket cost of less than $10 per month, Catalyst said.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Arun Koyyur

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