August 16, 2018 / 7:29 PM / a month ago

CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 2-Japan's Eisai sets price tag of about $17,000 on liver cancer drug (Aug. 16)

(Changes drug price in headline, first bullet, paragraphs 1 and 3 after company corrects it to $16,970 from $15,970)

* Wholesale price before discount is $16,970 for a 30-day supply

* Approval marks first U.S. approval for Merck-Eisai collaboration

* Expected revenue of $3.46 bln by 2022 - TR data

By Manas Mishra

Aug 16 (Reuters) - Japan's Eisai Co Ltd said on Thursday it would price its cancer drug Lenvima at about $17,000 for a month's supply before discounts, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use in patients with a common form of liver cancer.

The drug was approved as the first therapy in over a decade in the United States to treat previously untreated patients with an advanced or intermediate stage of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

"The price at which the recommended starting dose of Lenvima for unresectable HCC will be sold to wholesalers, excluding discounts, is $16,970 for a 30-day supply," Eisai told Reuters.

The price will be "in parity" with the prices of available doses, Chief Operating Officer Shaji Procida said.

The health regulator's decision also marks the first U.S. approval born of Eisai's drug development collaboration with Merck & Co Inc.

Under a deal here signed in March, the companies agreed to split profits from global sales of Lenvima, even for already-approved uses in thyroid cancer and in combination with another drug for kidney cancer.

Lenvima is expected to bring in revenue of $3.46 billion by 2022, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The latest approval here by the FDA also bodes well for Merck as investors remain concerned about its increasing reliance on blockbuster cancer immunotherapy Keytruda.

A wider adoption of Lenvima could help allay some of these fears by providing another "reasonable source of support" to the company, analysts have said. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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