High drug prices for multiple sclerosis (MS) has been a hotly debated topic. However, no actions have been taken by Congress.

Recently, US Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Peter Welch sent a letter to pharmaceutical companies Bayer, Biogen, Merck Serono, Novartis, Sanofi, Teva, and Roche requesting information about their pricing strategies for drugs used to treat MS. 

MS affects around 400,000 people in the US and more than two million people worldwide. Sales of branded MS drugs from the selected seven pharmaceutical companies exceeded $20bn in 2016, with the majority of sales from the US.

Growing MS drug costs are becoming an increasing concern to both patients and healthcare payers. In their letter, the Congressmen cited an American Academy of Neurology study that the cost of the average annual disease-modifying MS therapy had risen by almost 400% between 2004 and 2015. In 2004 the average annual cost was $16,050 a patient, which increased to more than $60,000 in 2015.

MS is a chronic disease and there is currently no cure. Therefore, most patients require continuous treatment for the rest of their lives, which has proved to be a stable source of revenue for pharmaceutical companies. According to a document on patient access published by the National MS Society, many of the disease-modifying therapies have increased in price to more than $85,000 per year. In particular, Teva’s Copaxone has risen by almost 10,000% since its launch 20 years ago. In addition, the average annual percent increase in cost of MS drugs ranged from 0% to 14% between 2012 and 2017.

Cummings and Welch’s letter also expressed concerns that drug companies appear to undertake 'shadow pricing', a phenomenon where all companies raise their prices to match a single company's price increases.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Lawmakers requested information from the drug makers to evaluate why there is a substantial price increase of MS drugs, including information about corporate profits and expenses, and documents concerning pricing strategies, patient assistance programmes, and drug distribution systems.

Rising MS prices and shadow pricing has been a major concern for some time. However, this trend may start to reverse. Recently approved MS drug Roche’s Ocrevus is priced at $65,000 a year, which is 25% cheaper than most other MS drugs on the market.

The letter from the lawmakers is welcomed by many physicians and patients who are concerned about high MS prices, and will no doubt cause drug makers to rethink their pricing strategy in the future.