Novartis says SMA gene therapy is cost-effective at $4-5 mln per patient

ZURICH, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis, which is shifting into rare diseases, said on Monday it believes its new gene therapy for the deadly disease spinal muscular atrophy could be cost-effective to healthcare systems at $4 million to $5 million per patient.

“Four million dollars is a significant amount of money, but we believe this is a cost-effective point,” Dave Lennon, president of AveXis, the U.S. gene therapy developer bought by Novartis this year for $8.7 billion, said on a call with investors.

“We’ve shown through other studies we are cost effective in the range of $4-$5 million,” Lennon said. “And ultimately, this is important context as we consider how we’re going to evaluate value for (the therapy called) AVXS-101.”

Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan added the Swiss company was not yet ready to comment on commercial pricing for the one-time therapy, with that to be determined in talks with insurers and government payers in the United States, Europe and Japan. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields)