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The Swiss bean counters at Novartis (NVS) decided to be charitable with the pricing of its newly approved cellular therapy for cancer, and now, Gilead Sciences (GILD) is in a tough spot.

By setting a $475,000 price for its CAR-T therapy — and indicating it will only charge for the drug if the patient responds — Novartis set a benchmark for the entire class. Gilead, of course, just bought Kite Pharma (KITE) for $12 billion with the expectation of bringing its CAR-T to market. Generating a decent return on that investment will be tougher if Gilead feels pressure to match Novartis’  “bargain” pricing strategy.


Gilead could just ignore Novartis and forge ahead with a more aggressive CAR-T pricing scheme of its own, but that risks further inflaming critics who have been going after the biotech company for years with accusations of price-gouging its hepatitis C drugs.

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