Cure for blindness costs US$425,000 an eye

Tests worked with patients suffering from retinal dystrophy

Is this the cure for blindness?

Is this the cure for blindness? (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A pharmaceutical company in the United States claims to have found a cure for blindness, but it will cost US$850,000 (NT$25 million) – or US$425,000 an eye.

Spark Therapeutics, based in Philadelphia, says its drug Luxturna will be injected directly into the eye to replace a defective gene in the retina, thus removing the basic cause of the affliction, the Guardian of London reported.

Initially, Spark had wanted to charge US$1 million (NT$29.5 million) for the drug, but partly due to concerns from insurers worried about their ability to cover the expense, it later cut the fee.

According to the Guardian, the drug is different from previous methods as it works in one go, and does not require repeated treatment over a long period of time. The gene therapy basically fixes what is broken with the DNA and helps the body repair itself, the British newspaper reported.

Clinical trials with Luxturna restored the eyesight of people suffering from retinal dystrophy, a condition affecting 2,000 patients in the U.S. and 4,000 overseas.