Celgene Boosted Price of Top Cancer Drug on Day of Mega-Deal

January 4, 2019, 5:16 PM UTC

On the same day Celgene Corp. was announcing that it would be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in the biggest pharma deal ever, the company was also raising the price of its blockbuster cancer drug.

The Summit, New Jersey-based biotechnology company, which has routinely increased the prices of its top-selling drugs, boosted the price of a 10-milligram dose of Revlimid by 3.5 percent to $719.82 effective Jan. 3, according to price data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence and First Databank. Cancer patients need many doses of Revlimid a year, and the overall cost can approach $200,000. The same dose cost $247.28 at the end of 2007.

Celgene also raised the price of psoriasis therapy Otezla, the cancer treatment Abraxane and two other drugs by the same percentage. In a statement, company spokesman Greg Geissman said the 3.5 percent increase is lower than the expected rate of spending growth in U.S. health care.

“For the benefit of patients, Celgene is committed to helping find ways to ensure that American health care improves access and quality, while also becoming more affordable over time,” Geissman said.

Celgene has come under scrutiny for hiking the prices of its drugs in the past. Its longtime chief executive officer, Bob Hugin, faced attacks on that issue when he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in New Jersey last year.

In June, the company said it would boost prices of its therapies only once a year and would limit increases to the annual percentage growth of medical spending in the U.S. In July, Celgene raised the price of Revlimid by 5 percent and said at the time that it planned no further increases in 2018.