The latest tempest over a dramatic drug price hike riles two powerful senators — who can't actually do anything about it
First Nostrum CEO Nirmal Mulye caught the attention of FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb when he jacked up the price of an old antibiotic from $474.75 to $2,392 last month. Now he has a pair of angry US senators on the warpath over his controversial, Martin Shkreli-like comments about the “moral requirement” of earning money for his investors and comparing the move to pricing art.
Coming in from opposite sides of the aisle, Claire McCaskill and Susan Collins let it be known that the original article from the Financial Times that got the show started had incensed them.
“In the pharmaceutical industry — as opposed to the luxury art market — pricing decisions can have a devastating impact on patients and their families that can literally amount to a matter of life and death,” they noted in a letter to the CEO. The senators went on to demand information on the product and a description of the market conditions that could spark any further price rise.
The furor over the little company’s gambit is reminiscent of the old Turing move on daraprim cited by the senators, who also tried to hold Shkreli accountable. Shkreli ended up taking the 5th when hauled in front of lawmakers, then wound up in prison on his conviction for defrauding his old hedge fund investors. But Congress had no power to do anything about the actual price of daraprim, and don’t here either.
At the end of the day, though, Gottlieb may have addressed the hubbub best by noting that there are others out there selling this therapy and there’s no shortage of it either.
2/2 There are other suppliers of this product and, by its own admission in @FT, the company in question isn’t actively marketing their formulation. Their excessive price, detached from market principles, exists only on a list and should remain there in a competitive marketplace
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) September 11, 2018