Bioethics Blogs

Drug Price Hikes and the Misguided Profit Imperative

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Headlines this past week were abuzz with news that Daraprim—a drug that has fought parasitic infections such as toxoplasmosis for 62 years—saw its price hiked by 5500%, nearly overnight. For decades Daraprim has been a front line drug available for $13.50 a table. When Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the company that makes the drug last month, the new owners raised the price to $750 per pill. Often used by HIV patients, the per year cost would be $634,500. As if that was not enough, the drug’s previous owners entered into an exclusivity arrangement with Walgreens, making Walgreen’s specialty pharmacies the sole place where the drug was available.

Cycloserine is a drug that fights multi drug resistant tuberculosis. When it’s owners sold the patent to Rodelis Therapeutics, the new company raised the price to $10,800 per package ($360 per capsule) from its previous $500 ($16.60 per tablet).

Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to two heart medications: Isuprel and Nitropress. They raised the price of Isuprel by 525% to $1,346.62 and of Nitropress by 212% to $805.61.

AARP reports that brand name drugs have increased in price an average of 12.9%. And for generic drugs, they report that price savings have slowed and 27 percent of generics saw increases of up to 1,000% over the last few years. Increases this much cannot be absorbed by insurance companies which are raising prices on premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for drug benefits. Drugs that used to cost $4 a month are suddenly costing $100 per month for consumers.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.