Amy Klobuchar, the freshman U.S. Senator from Minnesota, has penned an opinion piece on “sudden and dramatic” price increases in prescription drugs that she argues are not only wrong, but in many cases illegal. Here’s an excerpt from Klobuchar’s article:
Two years ago, Jesse and Lisa Benson became the proud parents of twin girls, Anna and Sophia. However, Sophia was born with a rare heart condition called patent ductus arteriosis, known as PDA, a disorder that prevents holes from healing in the hearts of premature infants.
At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Sophia’s heart condition was treated successfully with intravenous indomethacin, a drug sold under the name Indocin IV. The drug has been around for several decades and is the standard nonsurgical treatment for this life-threatening condition.
What the Bensons did not know at the time, but the hospital did, was that the price for this drug had just increased by nearly 1,300 percent, from $108 to $1,500 per unit.
The sudden and dramatic price increase was not in response to new research, marketing or legal costs. The only thing that had changed was the fact that an Illinois-based company, Ovation Pharmaceuticals, had cornered the market for drug treatments of PDA…
As it turns out, Ovation has made a specialty of acquiring the rights to drugs that are essential for treating serious medical conditions. For example, Ovation acquired three other drugs from Merck and then quickly jacked up the prices:
- Cosmegen, used to treat pediatric cancers, went up 3,437 percent.
- Mustargen, used to treat brain tumors and certain lymphomas, increased 979 percent.
- Diuril sodium, a diuretic used in infants and neonatals, increased 864 percent.
Ovation may be among the worst, but it is far from the only offender.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy have found many examples of â€œextraordinaryâ€ drug price increases, defined as cases where the price at least doubles overnight. The incidence of these price increases has also been rising sharply in recent years…
We can all be grateful for the wonders of modern medicine, including life-saving and life-enhancing pharmaceutical drugs. But our gratitude is no excuse for drug companies to engage in monopolistic and illegal price-gouging.
Amen, Amy. It’s so nice to hear a U.S. senator stand up for the people as opposed to the big drug companies. We’ll be watching your career with interest.