Pricing new gene therapies for sickle-cell: implications for an HIV cure

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

The recent UK and US approvals for gene therapy approaches to treat and potentially cure sickle-cell disease are remarkable scientific advances. [1, 2]

They also come with prices of upwards of $2 million for a single treatment. 

The model supporting this cavalier approach to pricing is based on reducing the lifetime costs of treating sickle-cell disease. 

A similar model for hepatitis C drugs, justified the $1000 a pill price by including the costs of a liver transplant. It is also disassociated from both the research and manufacturing costs. Generic formulations for these meds are now produced at a fraction of these prices.

The model is also based on the US only treating 2000 people per year, although more than 100,000 people in the US are likely to have sickle-cell disease, which predominently affects Black communities.

We include this news in HTB because gene therapy is one of the most active approaches to finding a cure for HIV. If this research is scientifically successful, we will have the same issues of cost in order to achieve access by those who need it most.


  1. MHRA press release. MHRA authorises world-first gene therapy that aims to cure sickle-cell disease and transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia. (16 November 2023).
  2. FDA news release. FDA Approves First Gene Therapies to Treat Patients with Sickle Cell Disease. (8 December 2023).
  3. Feuerstein A. In historic decision, FDA approves a CRISPR-based medicine for treatment of sickle cell disease. STAT news. (8 December 2023).

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