Cost of Provenge set at $93,000 for a course of treatment

There has been a lot of speculation as to what Dendreon would charge for a course of treatment with sipuleucel-T (Provenge). For 2 years, The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink has been telling readers that we expected this price to be not less than $75,000.

On a conference call for investors yesterday, the company finally announced that the price for the three cycles of therapy constituting a complete course of treatment had been set at $93,000: higher than we had hoped, and less than we had feared it might be.

At first we expect insurers to cover the vast majority of this cost for patients who meet the precise indication for treatment. Dendreon has said they only expect to be able to provide treatment for about 2,000 patients over the next 12 months, so this cost is unlikely to be a major “drain” on the resources of either Medicare or any major insurance company — especially since they have been expecting this approval.

The second question that will need to be addressed is how much of that cost insurers and Medicare will ask patients to pay out of their pockets once insurers have had a chance to really work through the economics. If it is (say) 20 percent of the total cost, then each patient is going to need to be able to find about $18,600 to pay for his “share” of this treatment.

Dendreon has noted that the price for this course of treatment is comparable to the cost of courses of treatment with other recently developed drugs and biologics. This is true, when you look at the costs for cancer drugs like lenalidomide (Revlimid), cetuximab (Erbitux), and several others. The company also pointed out that the costs of other treatments needed to manage side effects of sipuleucel-T was generally very low, unlike the situation with chemotherapy, where other relatively drugs may be essential to prevent infections or manage nausea and vomiting. In other words, the cost of a course of treatment with sipuleucel-T was going to be pretty much the cost of the sipuleucel-T — with minimal additive costs.

Dendreon has already stated that they will be implementing a patient assistance program to support patients who have financial difficulties meeting co-pay requirements.

5 Responses

  1. This $93,000, might it not include the cost of the oncologist fee, the infusion center, the tests and labs necessary to continue treatment, the ongoing maintenance during the month of treatment. Might it just be the first of a long line of fees and costs for those on the Provenge medical gravy train?

  2. My understanding is that this cost includes all costs associated with leukapheresis (withdrawal of the patient’s white cells) and re-infusion of the processed Provenge. I assume that it would not cover any ancillary costs for tests that are not specifically associated with leukapheresis and re-infusion; it would also not include costs associated with the patient’s visits to his own physician during treatment.

  3. I don’t understand why everyone is complaining about the cost. If you don’t want to pay, it don’t take the treatment. Has money become more valuable to people then life? Where else other then extending someone’s life should the money be spent? Going out to dinner? It’s not like the drug company isn’t going to spend this money back in the country. Be glad it isn’t going to China like everthing else we buy. All I know is if my 4-year-old son needed this drug to live for just 4 more months I’d pay $1,000,000 to keep him here that much longer.

  4. Just me, but … There is no freaking way I would spend that kind of money to extend my life by 120 days (on average)!!!

    $775/day to keep the suffering going just a little bit longer? I don’t think so, thank you very much.

    Imagine that kind of money being spent on providing needed care to a child. Someone that has most of his/her life to look forward to, not where most of it is already behind them.

    This is an obscene amount to spend on a selfish desire to exist for another 120 days. (And yes … I have been treated for prostate cancer, so I have thought all of this through very well.)

  5. I am excited that people have a choice. I have worked in urology for a long time, and I have seen the people who are past the point of what used to be no return. Some may call it selfish, but others may see it as being able to see the birth of their first grandchild. We give our first FDA-approved dose tomorrow. One of our doctors has worked long and hard to see this come to approval.

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