Citing Recent Outrageous Examples, Senator Durbin Calls on FTC to Review Sharp Spikes in Drug Pricing

Senator also says FTC should scrutinize mergers and acquisitions for their potential impact on drug pricing decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)–December 8, 2015.  In a meeting yesterday with the Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on the agency to make a timely review of any reported sharp spike in drug pricing – such as a 100% or more manufacturer price increase within a short time period – to determine if any anticompetitive actions have taken place.  Citing FTC’s authority to review and block pharmaceutical mergers if there is risk of diminished competition, Durbin also urged Chairwoman Edith Ramirez to carefully scrutinize mergers and acquisitions for their potential impact on drug pricing decisions.

“Access to prescription drugs is a life or death matter for many Americans,” said Durbin.  “Sudden, unexplained price spikes could put people at risk of losing access to these essential medications.  Pharmaceutical companies have a right to make a reasonable profit, but they also have a responsibility to play by the rules and be responsible market participants.  If they are not, the federal government should step in and investigate.”

There have been a number of recent examples of brand name and generic drug companies rapidly raising the price of prescription drugs.  Confusion, anger, and calls for a regulatory response have come after price spikes on the following drugs:

  • Isuprel & Nitropress: It was reported that prices of Isuprel and Nitropress – both used by cardiac patients – immediately rose by 525% and 212% respectively after the two drugs were acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals from Marathon Pharmaceuticals in February 2015.
  • Glumetza: It was reported that in 2015, the price of Glumetza rose by 550% over the course of 2015.  Its price for 90 tablets increased from $896 in Jan. 2013 to $10,020 as of July 31.
  • Daraprim: In August 2015, it was reported that the price of the prescription drug Daraprim – used to treat toxoplasmosis in AIDS patients – immediately rose from $13.50 to $750 a tablet after the drug was acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals.
  • Cycloserine: In August 2015, it was reported that the price of Cycloserine – used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis – immediately rose $500 to $10,800 for 30 capsules after the drug was acquired by Rodelis Therapeutics from the Purdue Research Foundation.  After public outcry, Rodelis agreed to return the drug to the Foundation in September, 2015, who is now charging $1,050 for 30 capsules.
  • Vimovo: It was reported that the price of Vimovo – a pain reliever – immediately rose by 597% after the drug was acquired by Horizon Pharma from AstraZeneca in 2013.

Source: www.drubin.senate.gov