Biogen Idec Inc. said Friday it will price Tecfidera, its newly approved pill to treat multiple sclerosis, at $54,900 a year per patient in the United States.
Officials at the Weston-based biotechnology company said the figure represents a “solid value” for MS patients, who will take the capsule twice a day. Most MS treatments now on the market have to be injected or taken through intravenous infustion.
“We think it’s appropriate price,” said Tony Kingsley, executive vice president for commercial operations at Biogen Idec. “The clinical benefit of the product is very meaningful. We look at it in comparison to the alternatives on the market and the investment we’ve made.”
Biogen Idec, the largest Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, won Food and Drug Administration approval Wednesday to sell the oral therapy. Company officials said Tecfidera will distributed, stocked, and available topatients “on or around” Monday.
MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous systems of about 400,000 people in the US and about 2.5 million worldwide, disrupting communication between the brain and other parts of the body. Over time, patients can suffer from muscle weakness, loss of balance, and a progressive decline in function.
Most current treatments for MS are priced between $45,000 and $60,000 annually.
The cost of Tecfidera represents a slight premium over the the $51,000 projected by investment fund managers polled by New York research firm ISI Group. But it is less expensive than the first MS pill, Gilenya, sold by Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, which costs $60,000.
A more recent market entry, the Aubagio pill marketed by the Cambridge-based Genzyme division of French drug maker Sanofi SA, has been priced at $45,000 a year. Analysts said Tecfidera has demonstrated greater safety and effectiveness than competing pills.