Drug makers offer discount on PCSK9 inhibitor

As federal officials struggle to tackle exorbitant pharmaceutical prices, at least one drug’s manufacturers have pledged to slash prices of a potentially life-saving drug for its most at-risk patients.

Regeneron and Sanofi have offered insurers a roughly 50 percent price cut on their PCSK9 inhibitor alirocumab (Praluent) for patients with the highest cholesterol levels, according to Forbes. The drug works by blocking the protein PCSK9 in patients for whom statins and other lipid-lowering treatments aren’t adequately lowering cholesterol.

A trial of the drug presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session showed it was more effective in preventing heart attack, stroke and all-cause mortality than a placebo, but physicians are still puzzled by access barriers to alirocumab and evolocumab, another PCSK9 inhibitor.

One of those barriers is cost, but Praluent’s makers are hoping a price cut can lead to more widespread use of their product.

"We're hoping to break the gridlock," George Yancopoulos, the head of research and development at Regeneron, told Forbes. "Really, it's not just a shame, it's almost a crime to deny this drug to these patients who are at such high risk and will derive such a big benefit."

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Opposite Day: Drug May Save Lives, So Drugmakers Offer To Cut Price