Severe Eczema Drug Is Approved by F.D.A.; Price Tag Is $37,000 a Year

The best-selling products Humira and Enbrel, which treat the skin disease psoriasis and other conditions, carry annual list prices of about $50,000.

Although many patients with insurance will not be asked to pay the full $37,000, consumers have been more exposed to rising prices in recent years because insurers often require them to pay a percentage of a drug’s list price — sometimes up to half — or pay the full price until their deductible is met.

They also often must demonstrate that other, cheaper drugs did not work before an insurer will cover more expensive drugs. Regeneron has said it also negotiated a more streamlined approval process, although patients will still have to try other drugs first. It also said it had a patient assistance program to help people who have troubling paying.

Regeneron and Sanofi held much of the bargaining power in negotiating Dupixent’s price because it has been shown to work well and has no real competition, said Dr. Steve Miller, the chief medical officer at Express Scripts, the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager, which often negotiates with drug makers on behalf of clients like insurers and large employers.

With breakthrough treatments, “companies can really go to the high end of that demand for reimbursement,” Dr. Miller said, “and all we have is the bully pulpit to complain about it.”

In trying to reach an agreement before approval, Dr. Miller said, “this is how the system is supposed to work.”

Christine Cramer, a spokeswoman for CVS Health, another leading pharmacy benefit manager, said, “While we believe our advocacy on behalf of our clients did ultimately influence Regeneron’s initial pricing strategy, the drug will be expensive.”

But Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines program at Public Citizen, a consumer…

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