Multiple Sclerosis Drug Costs Called into Question

Legislative investigation seeks information from 7 drug makers on costs for MS medications.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) drug manufacturers are on the hot seat, as US House Democrats are launching an investigation into the high costs of treatments for the disease, according to Reuters.

High drug costs have been an ongoing topic, and regulators and lawmakers have begun pushing back.

MS treatments have nearly quintupled since 2004, increasing from $16,000 to $78,000 in 2016, according to the national Multiple Sclerosis Society, as reported in Reuters.

US Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Peter Welch (D-VT) sent letters requesting information from 7 drug makers: Bayer AG, Biogen Inc, Merck KGaA’s EMD Serono unit, Novartis AG, Roche Holding AG, Sanofi SA, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc.

The letters seek to determine whether manufacturers are raising prices for MS drugs in lockstep with competitors, according to Reuters.

Roche stated it will work with lawmakers to address their questions, noting that the industry needs to drop the trend of steep price increases for MS drugs.

The company’s MS drug ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), which was approved by the FDA in March, is priced 20% below the current average treatment cost. According to Reuters, Roche has no plan to aggressively raise the cost.

A spokeswoman for Bayer said the company received the letter and will reply directly to the congress members. Novartis said it is reviewing the letter to determine how to address the requests, according to Reuters.