Cancer gougers: New Big Pharma scandal

Price of crucial leukemia drug is hiked 40% to $200,000 a year

Show me de monee!

Show me de monee!

Lawmakers have slammed a pharmaceutical company for raising the price of a crucial leukemia drug by 40 per cent in less than a year.

Bernie Sanders is leading the interrogation into ARIAD Pharmaceuticals in the latest battle between government and big pharma firms.

ARIAD produces Iclusig, which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia in some patients. The company has subtly bumped the price of the drug by at least 8 per cent every quarter – amounting to a 39 per cent increase.

Now it costs $200,000 a year – up $80,000 in just a few years.

what-is-iclusigThe latest hike, announced this month, has been met with outraged cries from patients. It comes on the heels of two major controversies – when disgraced Turig CEO Martin Shkreli increased the price of life-saving drug Daraprim, and when drugmaker Mylan recently hiked the price of the EpiPen.

Sen Bernie Sanders claims ARIAD’s price hike is in the same league – and has written to the firm with Rep Elijah Cummings, D-Md, for an explanation.

‘These outrageous sales tactics indicate that ARIAD is more concerned with its profit than with its patients,’ Sanders and Cummings wrote.

Sanders also tweeted about the company last week: ‘Drug corporations’ greed is unbelievable. Ariad has raised the price of a leukemia drug to almost $199,000 a year.’

According to data from Truven Health Analytics, the list price for a year’s supply of Iclusig tablets has increased from $114,960 in 2012 to $198,732 in October 2016.

Sanders and Cummings also said they are investigating whether the company tried to boost profits by tweaking pill dosages and quantities to charge insurers and patients more for less medicine.

iclusigThe FDA approved Iclusig in 2012 as a treatment for two rare types of leukemia, but the company suspended sales the next October because of heightened concerns that patients could suffer from life-threatening blood clots.

In December 2013, it relaunched with added warnings and to a smaller subset of patients.

The inquiry comes as other pharmaceutical companies have come under fire from Congress for price hikes.

Martin Shkreli, the brash former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, became the poster child of pharmaceutical-industry greed last fall for hiking the price of a life-saving drug, Daraprim, by more than 5,000 percent.

He invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer any questions at a House hearing earlier this year.

In September, a House panel grilled Mylan CEO Heather Bresch after the list price of the company’s life-saving EpiPens grew to $608 for a two-pack, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2007.

Mylan is paying $465 million to settle allegations that it overbilled Medicaid for the EpiPen.

The settlement with the Justice Department followed the news that EpiPen has been incorrectly classified since late 1997 as a generic product under the Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled.

Written by Mia DeGraaf and published by The Daily Mail ~ October 20, 2016.

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