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Time for government action on unreasonable drug price hikes

Many readers would have read about the outrageous price hike of the drug Daraprim (pyrimethamine) in the United States, which was acquired in August 2015 by Turing Pharmaceuticals. The price was then promptly raised to US$750 a tablet from US$13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This latest drug pricing outrage illustrates the lack of social responsibility among some companies.

Another drug, cycloserine, acquired by Rodelis Therapeutics, used in the treatment of tuberculosis, also had a huge overnight price increase, but strong protests forced the company to return the drug to its former owner, a non-profit organisation affiliated with Purdue University, Indiana. This may be a signal that the time has come for government action to preserve the affordability of vital pharmaceuticals. Wall Street’s desire to maximise profits must be balanced with the needs of patients and the long-term sustainability of our healthcare system. If the pharmaceutical industry cannot exercise self-restraint on pricing, we will need to revisit the massive public investments and incentives that benefit it.

John Rother

President and CEO

The National Coalition on Health Care

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20069426

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