Potential Blockbuster Cancer Drugs Hitting the Market

Top 3 Things You’ll Learn

  1. New drugs approved by the FDA in 2019
  2. New cancer drugs that may hit blockbuster status
  3. How plan sponsors can prepare for high-cost drugs hitting the market

With 48 new drug applications approved by the Food & Drug Administration in 2019, treatments are available now for many conditions that previously have not been treatable with medications. Among these are new treatments for migraines, peanut allergy, and specific types of cancers. The full listing can be found here.

Innovative specialty meds make up many of the new drugs approved. While life-changing, even life-saving, they come with a hefty cost.

Three cancer therapies in particular are expected to be among the biggest money-makers in the market this year:

  • Brukinsa, approved Nov. 2019: for patients with mantle cell lymphoma who have relapsed after standard first-line treatment. With a wholesale acquisition price (AWP) of $12,935 for a 30-day supply, Brukinsa will compete against first-to-market blockbuster Imbruvica and another competitor drug called Calquence.
  • Padcev, approved Dec. 2019: a first-in-class drug for bladder cancer (locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma), indicated for patients who relapsed after using Keytruda or similar therapies. Padcev is unique in that it contains antibody-drug conjugates, which have been described as “mini-chemo bombs” that target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. A full course of treatment costs between $110,000 and $120,000 on average.
  • Enhertu: a targeted breast cancer drug for patients with HER2 positive tumors. Enhertu contains the same active ingredient found in Herceptin, a HER2 drug approved in 1998. Enhertu will likely launch at an average wholesale price (AWP) of around $13,300 per month.

As additional drugs are set to hit the market later this year, managing appropriate use of these high-cost medications will be essential. Plan sponsors need a tailored clinical strategy to address their risk areas and maintain a sustainable pharmacy benefit going forward. For example, implementing independent prior authorizations on specialty medications can be a very valuable strategy to help your clients ensure appropriate utilization of oncology medications.


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