Precision Medicine

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are reporting that a child has been treated with Strimvelis for a rare inherited immune deficiency. This brings the grand total of recipients of commercial gene therapy up to two, following 2015’s use of Glybera. If Glybera sounds familiar, it’s because it became known as the most expensive drug in the world with a price tag of $1 million.

While not hitting the million dollar mark, Strimvelis is coming in at a hefty $648,000. As GSK plan to treat several more children in Europe throughout 2017, there are going to be a few interested parties looking on at the commercial fate of the gene therapy. These are expensive for good reason. In basic terms, they are more complicated than your regular drug. As the name suggests, they revise a patient’s genetic makeup and provide an outright cure. A tremendous amount of research and development goes into producing these therapies, and due to the nature of the conditions they target they will only be used by exceptionally few patients. That’s what makes this an interesting commercial proposition. Will it take off and develop a burgeoning gene therapy industry? We will wait and see.

For a really good breakdown of what’s going on within the gene therapy market, and more on Strimvelis, check out this excellent article over at MIT Technology Review.