Michigan Association of Health Plans

Pharma chief defends 400% drug price rise as a ‘moral requirement’

Originally Published by Financial Times 

A pharma executive has defended his decision to raise the price of an antibiotic mixture to more than $2,000 a bottle, arguing there was a “moral requirement to sell the product at the highest price”.

Last month, Nostrum Laboratories, a small Missouri-based drugmaker, more than quadrupled the price of a bottle of nitrofurantoin from $474.75 to $2,392, according to Elsevier’s Gold Standard drug database.

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic used to treat bladder infections that was first marketed in 1953, which appears on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. It comes in a tablet form as well as a liquid version that Nostrum makes.

In an interview, Nirmal Mulye, Nostrum chief executive, said he had priced the product according to market dynamics, adding: “I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can . . . to sell the product for the highest price.”

Mr Mulye said Nostrum was responding to a price rise from Casper Pharma, which makes a branded version of the product known as Furadantin. Casper increased the price of its product by 182 per cent between the end of 2015 and March 2018, taking a bottle to $2,800, according to the Elsevier database.

Casper did not respond to a request for comment.

“The point here is the only other choice is the brand at the higher price. It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not,” said Mr Mulye.

Mr Mulye compared his decision to increase the price to an art dealer that sells “a painting for half a billion* dollars” and said he was in “this business to make money”.

Read the full story at Financial Times