Lawmakers set their sights on Valeant and its steep heart drug price hikes
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cumings (D-MD) want to know why Valeant's newly acquired heart drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress, have increased by more than 300% in price.
- Valeant purchased these drugs from Marathon Pharmaceuticals in February.
- As soon as it completed the purchase of Isuprel and Nitropress, Valeant increased the prices six-fold to $1,347 a vial for Isuprel and three-fold to $806 a vial for Nitropress.
Both Isuprel and Nitropress are in-demand drugs in the hospital setting. These injectables are used to treat acute episodes of abnormal heart rhythm, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. And while Valeant has made the case that "each drug is priced based on value," Sanders and Cummings are among the lawmakers who disagree—vehemently. Therefore, the two Congress members have requested that Valeant produce documents such as contracts with outside suppliers, other cost estimates and profit projections, as well as prices charged in other countries. All the information is due by September 3.
Sen. Sanders and Rep. Cummings have identified this most recent case of astronomical price increases in a short period of time as part of a larger problem in which "drug companies are taking money out of the pockets of Americans." And it's not just politicians who have noticed the trend. For instance, two Wall Street Journal reporters pointed out in April that pharma companies seem to be pursuing a strategy of snapping up a rival and then significantly hiking its drugs' prices.
With Sanders running in the Democratic presidential primary and an increased national focus on restraining healthcare spending, stories like this are becoming more commonplace. Stay tuned for updates.
- Modern Healthcare Dems seek info on Valeant drug price spikes