(UR) Chicago — In the latest of a recent spate of pharmaceutical companies jacking up prices of medications, it was reported last week that Chicago-based Novum Pharma has raised the consumer cost of one of its acne treatments to nearly $10,000 — an increase of 3,900 percent since May of last year.
TIME reported on Wednesday that the price of Aloquin — a medication used to treat acne and eczema — was just dramatically raised, writing: “The price of a 60g tube — that’s a little over two ounces — went up by 128%, and now retails for a jaw-dropping $9,561.”
This latest hike seems to fit within a pattern of behavior for Novum Pharma, who has repeatedly raised the price of Aloquin since gaining legal rights to the drug. Writes Fortune:
“Overall, the price of Aloquin has increased 3,900% since May of 2015. Novum has steadily increased its price since that time, when it acquired the drug from Primus Pharmaceuticals, its previous owner. A spokesman for the drug company told the Financial Times that revenue from increased prices would go to investing in ‘schemes that ensured more patients could access the medicine.’”
In November 2015, leaders from the Senate Special Commission on Aging sent a letter to several heads of pharmaceutical companies requesting they testify before the committee about drug pricing practices.
In a press release published the day the letters were sent out, one of the committee leaders, Senator Claire McCaskill, stated:
“Some of the recent actions we’ve seen in the pharmaceutical industry — with corporate acquisitions followed by dramatic increases in the prices of pre-existing drugs — have looked like little more than price gouging. We need to get to the bottom of why we’re seeing huge spikes in drug prices that seemingly have no relationship to research and development costs.”
Or even effectiveness, it would seem.
Reporting on Novum Pharma’s recent hike, Ars Technica noted that — unlike other drugs whose prices have been raised but are otherwise effective medications that can actually save lives — Aloquin is merely a skin treatment, and has been rated by the FDA as only being “possibly effective” in the first place.
Among the pharmaceutical company heads sent a letter by the special committee last November was Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and the man who caused public outrage when he inexplicably raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill last year.
A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “Prices for many specialty drugs are higher in the United States than other developed countries, and about 1 in 4 people in the United States who take prescription drugs report difficulty affording them.”
The study also noted that “The majority of the public favors…policy actions to hold drug prices in check.”
The news of the price hike on Novum Pharma’s Aloquin came the same day the CEO of pharmaceutical giant Mylan, Heather Bresch — under whose watch the price for a shot from an EpiPen has increased over 400 percent — testified before the House Oversight Committee regarding how her company goes about setting drug prices.
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