NIH Sued Over Plans to Grant Exclusive License to Gilead’s CAR T-Cell Technology

Consumer advocacy group Knowledge Ecology International is suing to prevent the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from awarding a worldwide exclusive license to Gilead Sciences for its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell technology. The lawsuit contends that the NIH should secure an agreement that any emerging medicine would be affordable to Americans before awarding the license.

According to the advocacy group, the NIH “mismanaged taxpayer funds at a time when high drug prices are a leading concern both within the U.S. and abroad, thereby threatening access to this treatment, imposing unnecessary financial toxicity on patients that have access, and ignoring the public interest in having affordable cancer treatments.”

In arguing its case, the group pointed to the one-time cost of two recently approved CAR T-cell therapies: Kymriah ($375,000), which is sold by Novartis, and Yescarta ($373,000), which is sold by Gilead. Managing treatment-related adverse events and subsequent procedures can add more than $500,000 to the costs of CAR T-cell therapy.

Source: STAT News, April 20, 2018.