$158,000 price tag for new ALS drug reignites anger at Big Pharma

A new drug treatment for ALS is sparking frustration with Big Pharma after its drugmaker quoted it $158,000 a year, leading to excruciating insurance processes to access it.

Relyvrio, a drug produced by Amylyx Pharmaceutical, has been found to slow the progress of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that is usually fatal within five years. ALS patients experience a gradual loss of control over their movement, losing the ability to walk and even speak as the disease progresses.

As a result, getting a drug that slows progression quickly is vital for many patients, but Amylyx’s high price tag causes insurance companies to block the drug after a long application process and sometimes , the drug is prohibitive even for patients. with coverage, according to the Associated Press.

“When someone’s life is measured in months, putting people through these multiple rounds of review is cruel,” said Neil Thakur, the ALS Association’s chief of mission.

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A doctor talks to a patient during a checkup.

A doctor talks to a patient during a checkup.
(iStock)

Amylyx developed Relyvrio, its first product, by combining a liver treatment drug with a supplement used in traditional Chinese medicine, two relatively inexpensive ingredients.

However, pharmaceutical companies argue that the drugs’ sky-high price is a result of the lengthy approval process imposed by the FDA. Amylyx expects to make $450 million in profit from Relyvrio, according to the AP.

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Big pharma remains one of America’s least popular industries, with companies routinely churning out drugs at exorbitant prices.

President Biden’s administration has tried to unilaterally lower drug costs through government regulation, but Republicans on Capitol Hill have argued that the move would stifle the industry.

President Joe Biden holds a press conference.

President Joe Biden holds a press conference.
(Fox News)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters after a Republican strategy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters after a Republican strategy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
((AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite))

“The American people know that the government can’t magically make things cost more by passing laws that say things should cost less,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said when discussing the legislation in July. “The bill will be delivered to Americans living with real health problems.”

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“The price of bigger government will be less life-saving care, less innovation in the future,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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