Dendreon: Provenge to cost $93K for full course of treatment

One of the most pressing questions analysts and patients have had about Provenge is how much Dendreon would charge for its newly approved prostate cancer drug. Following this afternoon's conference call, we now have an answer.

Each infusion of Provenge will cost $31,000, bringing the full cost of treatment for three infusions to $93,000. As the company put it, the drug will cost about $23,000 per month of life extension, based on the Phase III study that found the drug extended life by 4.1 months. That price point is far higher than anticipated: In a recent Xconomy article, analysts projected a range of prices from $40,000 per patient at the low end, up to $75,000, with an average around $62,000. Dendreon spent about $1 billion developing the immunotherapy.

Dendreon says that, initially, demand for the drug will exceed supply as the company finishes building out its three manufacturing facilities in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Jersey. "We can't warehouse drugs, since every dose is unique to each patient," explained COO Hans Bishop. For the drug launch, New Jersey facility will operate at 25 percent capacity, which will allow Dendreon to provide Provenge to about 2,000 patients in the next 12 months. Bishop acknowledged that initial demand will outstrip supply. The company will provide the drug to 50 oncology and neurology clinics that participated in Provenge clinical trials. It will be up to doctors at those sites to decide which patients are best suited to receive the treatment. All three facilities are expected to be fully operational by mid-2011, pumping out at least $1.2 billion worth of the drug.

Dendreon execs added that they've put partnerships aside for now, and will instead focus on gaining Provenge approval in other countries, with their focus set on the EU. The company will also evaluate which existing drugs might work in combination with Provenge, though CEO Mitch Gold wouldn't provide any further details.

After 15 years of waiting, Dendreon expects to treat its first patient next week.