Acorda Therapeutics CEO Ron Cohen is Optimistic That Drug Industry Can Make a “Fair Profit” and Still Get Respect | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Acorda Therapeutics CEO Ron Cohen is pleased that Marathon Pharmaceuticals decided to pause the commercial activities of its new Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment Emflaza in response to criticism of its high price tag.


“That's the sort of response that is helpful,” he said, during a call Tuesday with investors.


Last week, Marathon announced that Emflaza, its new DMD drug, would cost $89,000 per year (read “Senators Launch Probe into Marathon's $89K Price Tag for ‘Cheap Steroid’ - Company Retreats”; The announcement caused outrage from patient advocates and lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who accused Marathon of abusing the Orphan Drug Act, a program that grants drugmakers seven years of market exclusivity in exchange for bringing a rare-disease drug to market. A generic version of the drug, a corticosteroid, when sold outside the U.S., costs $1,200 per year, according to media reports.


Still, Cohen, a vocal proponent of the industry, said he is more optimistic than he was a year ago about reaching a point in which companies can make a “fair profit” while also rebuilding the trust of the public and the government.


The fact that the pharmaceutical industry is facing tremendous pressure to bring down drug prices and extend access is “no secret,” said Cohen.


In the past, there was “a lot of finger pointing across different pieces of the system,” he added (read “Pharma CEO Rips Insurance CEOs a New One! Exposes Salaries, Blames Them for High Drug Prices”: and “High Rx Drug Prices? We’re Not to Blame Say Payers & Our Unbiased Poll Proves It!”; But that strategy was ineffective and only allowed external parties to attack drug companies even more, he said.


Political leaders “want to make sure that the U.S. remains a leader in those areas … and that gives us a foundation for having constructive discussions,” he said.