Thirteen-grand a year.
That's about how much Acorda Therapeutics says it'll charge for its newly approved drug Ampyra for multiple sclerosis.
The price is way higher than most analysts had been openly expecting ACOR to set. The Street was forecasting the cost to be somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. Against the backdrop of the health care reform debate and all of the noise in Washington about the pharma lobby and drug costs, some might find it surprising that a company would come out of the gate with this kind of price tag.
Ampyra's the first pill designed specifically to help some MS patients walk better and faster. The cost works out to about $16.50 per dose. I think it's worth noting that in the press release headline, in the same breath as it were, the company touted that it's going to have a patient assistance program. Oftentimes, that kind of stuff comes further down in a release or a company launches one under pressure or as a post-market preemptive PR measure.
Acorda shares are hitting a new high on the pricing news and a lot of analyst research notes raising sales and earnings estimates along with their price targets. Biogen Idec will sell the drug outside the U.S. and Elan gets paid to make Ampyra. There's so much investor interest in the story that Deutsche Bank biotech analyst Dr. Mark Schoenebaum is doing a conference call for clients about it tomorrow. In an email inviting people to listen in Schoenebaum listed a bunch of serious, important questions he'll try to answer, but as is his way, threw in this one in the middle of the paragraph to see, perhaps, if people actually read through it: "How can Ron's hair be so incredibly perfect all the time?" Ron is Dr. Ron Cohen, the CEO of Acorda.
You can watch his recent interview on CNBC (and check out his hair) here in this post.
Many people with MS battle spasticity and walk with a gait.
An acquaintance was diagnosed with MS less than two years ago and now uses a beautiful golden retriever to help her walk straight.
I told her about the approval of Ampyra, but she isn't sure she's going to try it.
At least not yet.
My friend may be in the minority, though. Most analysts think the drug will get pretty quick uptake. Acorda says Ampyra should be available next month.
Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman