Would YOU pay $850,000 to help restore your vision??
Last month, the Luxturna gene therapy was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The gene therapy, manufactured by Spark Therapeutics, is meant to reverse blindness. It will cost $425,000 per eye, a total of $850,000. The operation itself will be an extra $4,000-$5,000.
After the treatment, the patient's vision would not be fully restored, but patients are able to find their way through low-light environments much easier.
The company expects the drug Luxturna to be a one-time treatment that will last a long time, maybe for life.
The treatment includes injecting a modified cold virus into the eye to deliver the corrected genes to the retina. The retina is in the back of the eye. The operation takes 45 minutes.
It is approved only for those who have an inherited genetic disease called Retinal Dystrophy. In the picture, there are spots that could be either yellow or gray which is not normal. It is so rare that only a couple thousand people in the US have it. Those who have it are born with it and their vision gradually declines as they get older. By adulthood, they can go completely blind.
How can a patient pay for such an expensive treatment and what if it doesn’t work? Spark Therapeutics negotiated an agreement with Harvard Pilgrim, a non-profit health insurer.
They will help pay for the treatment and can get their money back if the treatment doesn’t work.
There will be additional research in curing other types of blindness. That could include Usher’s Syndrome which is common within the Deaf community. If you ever had an opportunity to be able to see and you could afford it, would you try it?