Why do they cost so much?

Many years can be spent in identifying the therapeutic molecule, determining its genetic sequence and working out a process to make the treatment stable, biologically active and reproducible. As a result, the biotech industry spends more on research and development (about 20- 25% of revenue) compared to the mainstream pharmaceutical industry (about 15% of revenue).

A biotech treatment requires specialized and complex manufacturing techniques and distribution processes, making the mass handling of therapies very difficult. Since biotech drugs are derived from natural sources, they are often less stable than synthetic molecules and necessitate special handling and distribution.

Most biotech treatments can not be administered orally, but need to be injected or infused. This requires a high purity and sterility for biologic medicines, adding to their cost.

One of the main benefits of biotech treatments is that they often target patients with relatively uncommon diseases or those who constitute a small subset of patients with a highly prevalent condition such as asthma. However, the development and approvals process costs the same as a more widely applicable treatment, but with a smaller patient basis that can take advantage of the treatment.