When I read a recent Hepatology editorial (Hepatology 2015; 61: 1106-8), I could not help think of the aforementioned title of this blog.
Here’s the scoop:
The two most commonly used medications for Wilson’s disease are trientine (Syprine) and D-penicillamine (Cupramine). For about 20 years, the original manufacturer of these medications kept the consumer cost at ~$1 per 250 mg tablet. Currently the cost of Syprine is ~$200 per 250 mg tablet and Cuprimine costs ~$55 per 250 mg tablet. This 200-fold increase translates into a yearly cost of ~$300,000.
How did this happen?
- Little competition
- Profit motive
- Patients are reluctant to protest (they need this medication to be manufactured)
Why is this outrageous?
This increase in cost was not driven by any new discovery or research innovation.
Are there options?
Zinc is inexpensive and may be an option after initial period of chelation/normalization of liver biochemistries. Zinc needs to be taken two to three times per day and “well away from meals for best absorption.”
Bottomline: These medication prices are outrageous.
- “Molecular pathophysiology of portal hypertension” Hepatology 2015; 61: 1406-15. Terrific review with excellent figures.
- “Ezetimibe for the treatment of Nonacloholic Steatohepatitis” (MOZART trial) Hepatology 2015; 61: 1239-50. This randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 50 patients (biopsy-proven NASH) showed that Ezetimbe was not significantly different from placebo in histologic response rates, serum aminotransferases, or in magnetic resonance elastography findings.
- Van Biervliet et al. “Clinical Zinc Deficiency as Early Presentation of Wilson Disease” JPGN 2015; 60: 457-9. Case report.