Japan sets 50 pct price cut for Opdivo cancer drug: Ono Pharma

Nov 16 (Reuters) - A Japanese health ministry council has approved a 50 percent cut in the price of Opdivo, a costly immune system-boosting cancer drug produced by Bristol Myers Squibb Co and marketed in the country by Ono Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.

Opdivo, approved in Japan for treating advanced melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and kidney cancer, has a current annual list price of 35 million yen ($321,787). The 50 percent price cut will take effect in February, Ono Pharmaceutical said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Japan’s government-run health system typically adjusts drug prices every two years, but Opdivo’s high price tag raised costs so much that officials decided to intervene with the steep price cut, according to local media reports confirmed by Ono.

Opdivo is part of a new class of cancer drugs designed to fight cancer by unleashing the body’s own immune system to kill tumors.

In the United States, Opdivo’s average list price is $13,100 per month, or $157,200 per year, according to Bristol Myers. The company said the U.S. price of Opdivo, first approved in late 2014, was increased by 1.5 percent earlier this year. (Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)