The Self-Insurer magazine recently examined the emergence of innovative gene therapies that carry substantial benefits… and hefty price tags. The FDA just approved a hemophilia B gene therapy that costs $3.5 million a dose, making it the world’s most expensive drug.

About 50 gene therapies are expected to reach the market soon – and with good reason: “Gene therapy truly is not treating the disease anymore; it’s solving the disease,” says Jay Ritchie, president and CEO of Tokio Marine HCC Stop-Loss Group. Such therapies, which repair or reconstruct faulty genes, have the potential to cure a wide range of diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

Richie adds that gene therapies may offer a return on investment in terms of employee productivity. “This is potentially a cure… that brings a large population of what was considered unable to work into the productivity category,” he says.

But while gene therapy holds great promise it brings with it serious risks, including infection, damage to healthy cells, tumors, and organ failure. Plus, there are no guarantees that the therapy will ultimately prove successful.

Because of their high cost and potential deficiencies, MedBen is currently recommending that clients do not cover the cost of gene therapies. As additional information becomes available, we will update you accordingly. In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact Senior Vice President Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907.