Save up to 90% on a Hartford Courant subscription. Click here to sign up now!


New $710-a-day drug saves lives but strains state budgets

A newly approved drug is being hailed as a major advance in treatment of cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that clogs the lungs with mucus and forces patients to struggle to breathe. But it comes with a punishing price tag — about $710 per patient per day.

The treatment takes a bite out of Medicaid programs that are already facing big budget problems, and a small state like Vermont will be on the hook next year for $3.6 million for a drug expected to treat only 40 people.

Orkambi — taken as two pills, twice daily — is a combination of two cystic fibrosis drugs that won approval from the Food and Drug Administration on July 2. Federal law...