The Wall Street Journal: New gene therapy priced at $1.8 million in Europe

A new gene therapy for a rare blood disorder will sell for €1.6 million ($1.8 million) in Europe, according to the maker of the recently approved treatment, whose sticker price is the latest indication that already high drug costs are continuing to climb.

After it goes on sale, the Zynteglo gene therapy from Bluebird Bio Inc.

BLUE, -5.70%

  will be the second-most expensive drug in the world after Novartis’s $2.1 million Zolgensma gene therapy, which was recently approved for sale in the U.S.

The latest seven-figure price tag suggests a new era of drug pricing as gene therapies begin hitting the market. The therapies, which replace defective DNA, promise to treat, if not cure, intractable diseases, but their high costs could put them broadly out of reach.

To ease the financial burden, Bluebird Bio said it would divide payment over five years, and would seek full payment only for treatments resulting in successful outcomes.

“We only get paid if our therapy works, with annual payments capped at five years, versus continued lifelong treatment and cost,” Bluebird CEO Nick Leschly said in a statement.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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