Gleevec is an inelastic cancer drug which created a monopoly in the pharmaceutical cancer drug market in the recent years. Since Gleevec is a life saving drug and it has no competition, it does not get affected by most of the economic conditions. Gleevec's closest competitor is still in development phase and there is no guarantee that it will be completed or approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) therefore Gleevec has no fear of a competitor coming into the pharmaceutical cancer drug market in the near future. Continuous studies are showing compromising affects of Gleevec on heart diseases besides leukemia and if approved by the FDA in the future Gleevec can be used to cure heart diseases which may expands Gleevec's use and pull its price down due to increase of demand.
Gleevec is a new type of cancer drug; the first of its kind developed to fight cancer by turning off an enzyme that causes cells to become cancerous and multiply. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gleevec (imatinib mesylate, or STI-571), in May 2001 for treating patients with three stages of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)." Gleevec was approved under the U.S. government's orphan drug program, which provides financial incentives for the development of drugs to treat rare diseases. Approval was based on clinical studies that demonstrated the drug's effectiveness in 90% of the patients studied.
CML is a blood cancer in which there are too many irregular white blood cells. These cells, which don't work correctly, crowd out the normal white blood cells. This clogs up the bloodstream and leaves the body with no defense against infections. The cause of CML is a gene on a chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. The gene makes a poisonous protein that causes cancer in white blood cells. "Gleevec works by holding back the defective enzyme, and this keeps the cell growth from getting out of hand."
"Before Gleevec there were 3 drugs used in the treatment of chronic phase CML.
Hydroxyurea, Busulphan and Cytarabine."
All the treatments of CML other than Gleevec neither acts as a cure, and alpha-interferon causes a number of potentially severe side effects that cause patients to discontinue its use. One advantage of Gleevec is that it can be given by mouth instead of by injection. A second advantage is that "CML seems to respond relatively quickly within one to three months to the drug. It is also proven that Gleevec has fewer serious side effects than other cancer drugs.
According to research by Urch Publishing, "the cost of Gleevec is approximately $28,000 per year for the chronic phase dose of 400mg and $42,500 for the accelerated and blast crisis dose of 600mg. The UK price for Gleevec was £1,557 for a 120-cap pack of 100mg capsules." Why do drugs for rare diseases cost so much? Because there are few patients to pay for them and the commercialization of these drugs are high relative to other drugs. Since there are few patients in the rare disease...