Clinton Joins Call for Lower Drug Prices

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined the growing chorus of lawmakers and others outraged over Turing Pharmaceuticals’ price hike on Daraprim, pressing the FDA and FTC Monday to broaden access to less expensive drugs.

In a letter to FDA Acting Director Stephen Ostroff, Clinton urged the agency to bring lower-cost generics to consumers, including expediting pending reviews and encouraging companies to submit applications for generic alternatives. She also said the agency should explore whether it has the authority to accelerate approvals or import generics from other countries.

The letters to Ostroff and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez are the latest salvos against Turing, which increased Daraprim’s (pyrimethamine) price by 5,000 percent — from $13.50 per pill to $750 — following its purchase from Impax Laboratories in August. The company has not significantly lowered the price of the antiparasitic drug despite backlash from politicians and consumers over the last month.

Clinton and presidential rival Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both unveiled plans last month to control prescription drug costs just days after Turing’s price hike came to light (DID, Sept. 23).

Earlier this month, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), called on the FTC to investigate certain drugmakers, including Turing, for possible antitrust violations in light of massive drug price increases (DID, Oct. 9). Clinton raised similar concerns in her letter to Ramirez.

Klobuchar’s letter followed a September letter from Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to the committee chairman demanding answers from Valeant Pharmaceuticals regarding 525 percent and 213 percent price increases on two heart disease drugs.

At least one Republican presidential candidate is discussing the need to lower drug prices. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), said drug companies are raising prices in the U.S. because they can, pointing out that in many cases the same product is available for a quarter of the cost in Canada. He called for a market competitive solution to push lower-priced generics coupled with a system to train physicians to prescribe generics.

Turing spokesman Ed Painter said the company has taken steps to improve patient access to Daraprim. — John Bechtel

 

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