FDA approves cystic fibrosis drug

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a drug to treat cystic fibrosis, the New York Times reported.

The drug, Kalydeco, manufactured by Vertex, treats the genetic disease — not the symptoms. CF attacks the lungs and digestive system, shortening the lives significantly of those who suffer from it. Sufferers generally have debilitating buildup of mucus in their lungs.

The drug only treats the cause of the condition in four percent of sufferers, but hopes are that other drugs that its developer are testing will cover the other causes. Ideally, a combination of the drugs will one day treat the illness for all sufferers.

This is the first drug to treat the cause of CF, not just the symptoms.

Shares of the corporation Vertex, which manufactures the drug, jumped in trading on Tuesday.

But the drug won't be cheap. It's cost per year? $294,000. But the company says most public and private insurance plans will cover its cost, Reuters reported

Industry analysts have worried in recent years that the pharmaceutical industry was not keeping up pace with the rapid developments of drugs seen the early part of the last decade.  Lipitor and Plavix, two of the most widely-prescribed drugs whose patents expired this year, now sell in cheaper generic form, NPR reported. Drugs such as these give hope that the industry will continue to innovate.

The Times reported that another of Vertex’s drugs, Incivex, which treats hepatitis C, is expected to make over $1 billion in sales for its first year.

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