Spark Therapeutics Can Cure Rare Blindness For $850,000

Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna is a gene therapy that treats a rare inherited retinal disease that can lead to blindness.

The cost? A one-time treatment has an $850,000 price tag.

The U.S. drug maker has the first gene therapy in the nation to treat the rare disease and had just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration last month.

The company has unveiled a set of payment and access programs to help pay for the treatment.

“It’s wildly expensive but, to be very frank, I think they’ve priced it what I’ll call responsibly,” said Dr. Steve Miller. Miller is the chief medical officer of pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, which is partnering with Spark on distribution and specialty pharmacy services for the treatment.

“The product is just phenomenally innovative, and we’ve been talking about gene therapy for over 20 years. We’re now at the threshold of having gene therapy reaching patients.”

“It came down to the value we believed was inherent in the therapy,” said Spark CEO Jeff Marrazzo.

“We also heard and did market research with payers … and wanted to take into account the questions and challenges they had about affordability,” Marrazzo continued. “Ultimately this is about access.”

“What’s important and unique about the product is not just standing behind the efficacy but behind the long-term durability from a single dose,” Marrazzo also said.

Disclaimer: We have no position in Spark Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCE) and have not been compensated for this article.

Sofia Vida

Sofia has been writing for major news outlets for over 15 years. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, walking her dogs, and going to concerts.

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