Novartis’ cancer treatment Kymriah gets Japan nod at cost of $305,800

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FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its branch in Schweizerhalle near Basel, Switzerland, March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese government panel approved Novartis’ cancer treatment Kymriah at a price of 33.5 million yen ($305,800) on Wednesday, marking the entry of so-called CAR-T therapy in the country.

The Swiss drugmaker aims to use the one-time personalized therapy in Japan for children and young people with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and adult patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

Novartis expects peak annual sales of 7.2 billion yen ($65.7 million) in Japan with up to 216 possible patients, according to a document submitted to the panel.

Kymriah works by removing disease fighting T-cells from individual patients, modifying them to attack cancer, and then re-infusing them back into the patients.

In the United States, it costs $475,000 for patients with ALL and $373,000 for DLBCL.

Global sales of Kymriah were $76 million in 2018, far smaller than the sales of the top 20 medications for Novartis.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Additional reporting by John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman