Menu

Gilead’s CAR T-Cell Therapy Administered to Just Five Patients in Two Months

More than 200 people are on waiting lists for the $373,000 treatment as hospitals try to work around problems with insurers. 

Dec 17, 2017
Catherine Offord

WIKIMEDIA, NEPHRONGilead Sciences’s blood cancer therapy has been administered to just five patients in the two months since its approval, according to a report published last Thursday (December 14) in Bloomberg. Waiting lists for Yescarta—a CAR T-cell treatment for large B-cell lymphomas—have reportedly surpassed 200 people, with some very sick patients dying before receiving the therapy.

Originally developed by Kite Pharma—a California-based startup that was bought by Gilead for nearly $12 billion in cash earlier this year—Yescarta is just the second CAR T-cell therapy to be approved in the U.S. Doctors at the 15 cancer hospitals authorized to administer the novel therapy cite problems in obtaining payment for the $373,000 treatment from insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid. “There’s no billing codes for this,” Michael Bishop, director of the cellular therapy program at the University of Chicago Medicine hospital, tells Bloomberg. “It’s been difficult, to be blunt.”

See “FDA Approves Second CAR T-Cell Therapy

While some hospitals are holding off purchasing the treatment until insurance is guaranteed, others are exploring alternatives. Doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center—which has a waiting list of more than 100—are allowing patients to sign waivers that say the patients themselves will foot the bill for the treatment if insurers refuse. Stanford University, meanwhile, is admitting patients whatever their insurance situation. “My institution is bearing the risk because it’s the right thing to do,” Stanford physician David Miklos tells Bloomberg. “But it’s a huge risk and it’s keeping me awake at night.”

At the time of its October approval, Yescarta was hailed as a “milestone in the development of a whole new scientific paradigm for the treatment of serious diseases” in a statement by US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. David Maloney, medical director of cellular immunotherapy at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, predicted on NBC that “there will likely be thousands of lives saved in the next few years because of it.”

See “The CAR T-Cell Race

July/August 2019

On Target

Researchers strive to make individualized medicine a reality

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

DNASTAR® announced the release of Lasergene 16 Software
DNASTAR® announced the release of Lasergene 16 Software
DNASTAR® announced the release of Lasergene 16 today, which includes a broad range of improvements in for analysis of DNA, RNA and protein sequence data, as well as new advancements for predicting and analyzing protein structures. 
Arbor Biosciences Partners with Curio Genomics for Analysis of IWGSC Wheat Exome
Arbor Biosciences Partners with Curio Genomics for Analysis of IWGSC Wheat Exome
Arbor Biosciences, a division of Chiral Technologies, Inc and worldwide leader in next generation sequencing (NGS) target enrichment, announces a partnership with Curio Genomics for bioinformatics analysis of the wheat genome.
IDT and Washington University join forces to increase access to the latest NGS technologies
IDT and Washington University join forces to increase access to the latest NGS technologies
As part of its commitment to advocate for the genomics age, Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) aims to lower the barriers to access the latest NGS technologies.
Bio-Rad Launches Bio-Plex Pro Human Immunotherapy Panel 20-plex Multiplex Assay, a targeted tool for researching signaling networks in Immunotherapy Research
Bio-Rad Launches Bio-Plex Pro Human Immunotherapy Panel 20-plex Multiplex Assay, a targeted tool for researching signaling networks in Immunotherapy Research
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) July 15, 2019 announced the launch of its Bio-Plex Pro Human Immunotherapy Panel 20-plex, a multiplex immunoassay that offers a targeted approach for Immunotherapy Research.