Latest US company accused of price gouging, after 2,469% increase
It seems that no matter how much bad press comes their way, certain pharmaceutical companies are more than happy to take a little heat to make quick money.
The latest to come to light is Avondale Pharmaceutical and the huge prices increases on two drugs it bought before subsequently hiking the price.
The two medicines are Niacor and SSKI, with price increases by 809% and 2,469%, respectively. There was no attempt by Avondale to try to hide the increases by raising the prices gradually, the route taken by Mylan during the EpiPen scandal that rocked the company towards the latter end of last year.
Instead, last month, shortly after acquiring the two drugs from Upsher Smith, a division of Sawai Pharmaceutical, the prices of both products shot up: for Niacor, this meant an increase from $32.46 to $295 and for SSKI, from $11.48 to $295.
The two products are the only medicines that Avondale has in its portfolio and the full details have not been released of the deal struck between the company and Upsher Smith.
Niacor is an FDA approved treatment for high cholesterol and is a type of vitamin B3, coming in 100 tablets packages. Despite there being many generic alternatives on the market, that can cost as little as $10, doctors sometimes prefer to prescribe FDA approved medicines.
The product was prescribed close to 19,000 times last year alone – if the price and prescription levels were to stay the same, that would mean total expenditure on Niacor would rise from $616,740 in 2016 to $5.6 million in 2018.
This might be possible due to the fact that many physicians will be unaware that the price of the product has increased so dramatically – an inefficiency that could add $5 million onto the annual bill for the product.
As reported by the Financial Times, the business dealings of Avondale remain shady – with a registered address but no means of contacting the company over the price increases.
Mark Pugh, appears to be CEO of Avondale but is also associated with Acrogen Pharmaceuticals whilst his LinkedIn states that he is currently CEO of Acella Pharmaceuticals.
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