A new medication for children with a rare and life-threatening cancer called neuroblastoma had a curious path to approval last November: With one exception, all U.S. patients in the clinical trials were treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. For almost a decade, naxitamab — now one of the most expensive drugs on the market, at $733,248 for a six-month regimen — was available in the U.S. only at the prestigious New York cancer hospital.
During those years, the hospital used its exclusive access to the experimental antibody treatment to recruit patients, promoting its availability on its website and talking up early trial results at conferences attended by parents. At one such conference, a MSK doctor described it as advantageous to the standard antibody treatment used elsewhere in the U.S., though no comparison studies have been done.
It’s a telling example of how MSK differentiates itself from competitors, by promoting experimental drugs often unavailable at rival hospitals.