“Specialty drugs” – that’s what they’re called. Not the pills of old, these pharmaceuticals are often given intravenously or through injection. Often more biologic in their synthesis than chemical, they are expensive to produce and often target narrow disease processes, meaning the number of patients likely to benefit from them is much much smaller than, say, the market for blood pressure pills.
High production costs and narrow consumer market – a recipe for high prices! Consider the cost of the many specialty drugs which have entered the oncology market in recent years, here shown in a picture put together by Brad Hirsch and colleagues in Health Affairs:
Pretty amazing to look at a picture like this and find yourself asking: Why does Perjeta only cost $70,000 per year?