‘Too many patients’ struggled to pay

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A glut of patients who were prescribed Repatha, Amgen’s treatment for high cholesterol, but couldn’t pay for the pricey treatment, were top of mind in the company’s decision to cut the drug’s cost by 60 percent, Amgen Chairman and CEO Bob Bradway said Monday.

In October, Amgen cut the price for a biweekly dose of Repatha, bringing the annual $14,100 total, before discounts and rebates, to roughly $5,850. On Monday, the biotechnology giant announced another 60 percent price slash, this time to the cost of the monthly dose.

“We found too many patients were prescribed this therapy, but were struggling to pay for it at the pharmacy counter,” Bradway told CNBC in an interview with Jim Cramer. “The reaction so far from physicians and from patients has been very, very encouraging.”

While the positive reaction in itself may not make up for the money Amgen will lose, the number of patients that will reconsider taking the drug at its lower price was encouraging enough for Bradway, who has been CEO of Amgen since 2012.

“What we’re finding is that patients that were walking away from the prescription — so, patients whose doctors had already identified them as being at high risk for heart attack and stroke — are now being able to get access to the medicine,” Bradway said on “Mad Money.”

Repatha treats high LDL cholesterol, the kind that heightens the risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s also the main reason why $600 billion a year is spend on cardiovascular disease, Bradway said, adding that Repatha lowers LDL levels in patients by 63 percent, on average.

Amgen’s stock rose 1.35 percent Monday, settling at $198.07 a share. The company made headlines in 2018 for pioneering Aimovig, the first drug specifically intended for migraine sufferers, and has seen that franchise grow by double digits.



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