October 18, 2017 Press Releases

Taxpayers and U.S. Patients Pay Twice for Kite’s New CAR-T Drug

WASHINGTON, DC — The following statement was issued by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the Founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs, regarding Kite’s decision tonight to price its CAR-T drug, Yescarta, at $373,000 per treatment.

“Drug prices are out of control. As a cancer patient, I look forward to the potential of CAR-T drugs. But drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and no American should pay $373,000 for a drug that taxpayers helped invent.

“As a reference point, Kite’s Chief Financial Officer said the company projected a price of $150,000 per treatment. Tonight’s announcement is more than double the original estimate without justification.

“Like Novartis, Kite’s new drug is vastly overpriced. American taxpayers paid for the basic science behind this drug, and now we’re asked to pay outrageous sums to get the treatment. Patients will suffer. It’s time we focus on maximizing access and affordability for patients instead of maximizing profits for drug corporations.”


  • According to Kite executives, the base price should be $150,000.
    • “Kite Chief Financial Officer Cynthia Butitta said that its financial models set a base case price at $150,000 per treatment, but that the actual price will depend more on survival rates and the drug’s efficacy.” [Reuters, 1/15/15]
  • Taxpayer funding: U.S. taxpayers invested more than $200 million in the science of CAR-T. NIH Director Francis Collins said that CAR-T “is grounded in initial basic research supported by NIH.” In fact, when Gilead bought Kite, it purchased at least two key patents in which NIH still has an interest. The New York Times reported specifically on NIH matching some of Kite’s research investments to develop these drugs.
  • R&D Costs: Kite disclosed that it spent $317 million on R&D between 2012 and June 30, 2017. That period is after the publication of a key research paper demonstrating the viability of CAR-T, reducing dramatically the risk for Kite compared to the early taxpayer investment. It has also been reported that Kite invested $30 million in a plant that can produce 5,000 doses per year. How much money does the company need to recoup on this R&D and other investments in order to make a fair return?
  • Price in countries outside the United States: Given American taxpayers’ unique investment into CAR-T, will Kite publicly guarantee that Americans will not be charged more than the citizens of other OECD countries?


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.