Zolgensma – which treats spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that damages nerve cells, leading to muscle decay – is currently the most expensive drug in the world. A one-time treatment of the life-saving drug for a young child costs US$2.1 million.
While Zolgensma’s exorbitant price is an outlier today, by the end of the decade there’ll be dozens of cell and gene therapies, costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for a single dose. The Food and Drug Administration predicts that by 2025 it will be approving 10 to 20 cell and gene therapies every year.
I’m a biotechnology and policy expert focused on improving access to cell and gene therapies. While these forthcoming treatments have the potential to save many lives and ease much suffering, health care systems around the world aren’t equipped to handle them. Creative new payment systems will be necessary to ensure everyone has equal access to these therapies.