Shire ready to undercut Cerezyme price by 15%

A price war could be shaping up for Gaucher disease. With its PDUFA date looming, Shire says that it plans to market its new therapy under the name VPRIV (it was developed as velaglucerase alfa), and it will charge 15 percent less than Genzyme's price for Cerezyme.

Normally, a 15 percent price cut wouldn't be considered an earthshattering event. But only a small number of people suffer from Gaucher disease, and Genzyme has been able to charge $200,000 per year per patient. A 15 percent reduction would undercut that by $30,000. And Shire Chief Executive Officer Angus Russell says the company is focused on snagging market share.

Genzyme also faces the prospect of fresh competition from Protalix, which is partnered with Pfizer and is looking for its own approval of a new Gaucher drug as Genzyme struggles to overcome recent manufacturing snafus. And Dow Jones notes that big money in rare diseases--along with a special IP status--has lured GlaxoSmithKline into the market with plans for its own rare diseases unit. The PDUFA date for VPRIV is February 28.

- here's the report from Dow Jones