Novartis Oncology and other therapeutic companies are introducing CTL019 as a new drug for cancer, especially Leukemia. However, the drug would be the most expensive treatment ever on the market. Here are the details of the new cancer medication.

New cancer drug to be released

Dr. Prakash Satwani, a pediatric hematologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, revealed that an innovative treatment for cancer is being tested and set for release. It is specifically addressed to cure leukemia patients with no other options left.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) has already unanimously approved and recommended the latest cancer drug. The treatment will be called CTL019, which is a chimeric antigen receptor T cell that belongs to a new class of medications called CAR T-cell therapies. This kind of treatment has been successful in some cancer patients.

According to Novartis, the CTL019 treatment draws the patient’s blood to get the T-lymphocytes. The process will then reprogram the cells in the manufacturing facility to create T cells. The genetically altered cells will possess chimeric antigen receptor that can recognize and destroy cancer cells.

The new anti-cancer drug has been already tested in patients with leukemia relapse despite a bone-marrow transplant or chemotherapy.

However, this treatment is only suggested as a last resort when other therapies fail. The American Cancer Society deputy chief medical officer Dr. J. Leonard further said that only a few hundred patients would initially qualify for the treatment.

Anti-cancer drug price revealed

Novartis, a Switzerland-based healthcare company, has not announced the price for the CTL019 yet.

However, the cost of the treatment will be more expensive than other anti-cancer drugs. British health authorities have already claimed that the new medication might cost around $649,000 for a single treatment.

Too expensive for patients?

The president for the Patients for Affordable Drugs group, David Mitchell, wrote a letter to Novartis to address problems about the CTL019.

He revealed that people with cancer are looking forward with high hopes to the possibilities of the new anticancer drug. He also added that taxpayers have even funded several drug research for the sake of an improvement in cancer medication.

In a year, drugs for cancer have cost more than $100,000, and a combination therapy for melanoma cells will also be around $250,000. Hence, Novartis' new anticancer drug's price is already high for cancer patients. Mitchell added that the treatment would be useless if people cannot afford it. They are now asking the company’s officials for a fair price for the therapy.

Novartis has released a statement in response to Mitchell's letter and agreed to meet with the group.

The company said that they are carefully considering an appropriate price for the CTL019. Novartis also explained that the price is also to compensate their massive investment in CAR T-cell therapy.

Drug's unknown adverse effects

Doctors revealed that CTL019’s full range of adverse reactions remains unknown. The treatment's side effects may include damaging healthy immune cells and other life-threatening complications. Hence, doctors might ask patients to stay in the hospitals for a month.