The U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging has taken Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals to task for exploiting a lack of competition when it comes to high-priced drugs.
“The Turing and Valeant price spikes have been egregious,'' Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who heads the panel, said at a hearing Wednesday.
Turing bumped the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat life-threatening infections, from $13.50 per pill to an eye-popping $750 per pill enraging consumers and politicians alike.
In the fall Turing’s CEO, Martin Shkreli, said the company would cut the price of Daraprim. However, that hasn’t happened. Instead, it’s offered to cut the price hospitals pay by as much as 50%. In addition, patients’ copayments will be capped at $10
The bad news?
Insurance companies will be stuck with most of the drug’s cost and ultimately those costs will be passed on to clients in the form of higher premiums.
Higher prices for these drugs first hit people paying out-of-pocket but that’s moved on to affect the entire U.S. health system – and Canada’s too – and in the process forcing many, especially seniors, to either stop taking a particular high-priced drug or switching to a lower-priced, less effective alternative.
Valeant, for its part believes the focus by politicians and others on specific drugs does little to solve the problem and unfairly puts it in a bad light.
“Broad conclusions about the company's pricing cannot be drawn from any one drug or set of drugs.'' Valeant said in a prepared statement. “We set prices based on a number of factors, including the cost of the development or acquisition of a drug, the availability of substitutes or generics, and the benefits it offers versus alternative treatments that might be more costly.”