Monoclonal antibodies: magic bullets with a hefty price tag

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 12 December 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8346

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The price of monoclonal antibodies bears little relationship to the development and production costs.(1). Denosumab, a highly specific monoclonal antibody, which incidentally is advertised on the back cover of this issue of BMJ, costs the NHS only £310 pounds per dose.

The pricing of a near monopoly product is always related to 'how much the market can bear'. Markets tend be ‘inefficient’ with monopoly products and suppliers.
In 1914, faced with rising drug prices, the BMA Pharmaceutical Committee, recommended that ‘Government should exercise its powers’ to control price inflation. Perhaps that advice still remains relevant today.(2)

1. Shaughnessy AF. Monoclonal antibodies: magic bullets with a hefty price tag. BMJ. 2012 Dec 12;345(dec12 1):e8346–e8346.

2. Price of Drugs. Supplement 542. BMJ. 1914 Sep 12;2(2802):S169–S172.

Competing interests: Honararia from various pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Sanofi and Roche.

Santhanam Sundar, Consultant Oncologist

Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, Nottingham. NG5 1PB

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