Keryx CEO Says U.S. House Bill Would Help on Drug Pricing

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (KERX) said it expected to benefit from proposed U.S. legislation that would continue a pricing system for dialysis drugs, sending its shares up the most in almost five months.

The bill would erase an estimated 24 percent cut to payments for physicians under Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled. The 121-page legislation includes a provision requiring Medicare to continue making separate payments for oral drugs used in dialysis, instead of including them in a “bundled” payment to dialysis centers.

The measure is “very good for us,” Keryx Chief Executive Officer Ron Bentsur said in an e-mail. Oral dialysis drugs wouldn’t be included in the bundled payment until 2024, under the bill.

Keryx is developing a drug to help dialysis patients with kidney failure remove excess phosphorous from their bodies. The experimental medicine, KRX-0502, also is being tested as a treatment for iron deficiency anemia and elevated phosphorous for certain chronic kidney disease patients who aren’t on dialysis, the New York-based company said on its website.

An estimated 414,000 Americans were on dialysis for treatment of kidney failure in 2010, and almost all had their care paid for by Medicare. The House is scheduled to vote on the measure tomorrow, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to schedule a vote soon after the House acts.

Keryx gained 17 percent to $16.54 at the close in New York, its biggest single-day increase since Nov. 5.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sasha Damouni in New York at sdamouni2@bloomberg.net; Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net Andrew Pollack, Stephen West

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