Nirmal Mulye, founder and president of Nostrum Pharmaceuticals, is quoted in a Financial Times article on Tuesday saying that he has a moral requirement to sell the product at the highest price.
Mulye told Financial Times in the interview, “I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can . . . to sell the product for the highest price.”
Nostrum Pharmaceuticals is the manufacturer of the antibiotic mixture nitrofurantoin, a drug the World Health Organization lists as an “essential” medicine for lower urinary tract infections. Last month, Mulye made the decision to more than quadruple the price of the drug from about $500 a bottle to more than $2,300 per bottle.
Mulye claimed the decision to raise the price was in response to a price increase from Casper Pharma which makes a competing branded version of the drug and had increased prices 182 percent between 2015 and March 2018, bringing the cost to $2,800 per bottle.
“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 Mulye.
Casper Pharma did not issue a response in the Financial Times article.
The had of the US FDA blasted Mulye in a tweet saying, “Regarding @FT story today @bydavidcrow; there’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients. FDA will continue to promote competition so speculators and those with no regard to public health consequences can’t take advantage of patients who need medicine.”
2/2 There are other suppliers of this product and, by its own admission in @FT, the company in question isn’t actively marketing their formulation. Their excessive price, detached from market principles, exists only on a list and should remain there in a competitive marketplace
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) September 11, 2018
Mulye also defended Martin Shkreli who was widely criticized for raising the price of an essential AID’s and cancer drug from $13.50 to $750 per tablet in 2015. Shkreli became the face of Big Pharma greed and criticism of the industry for increasing profit at the expense of saving human lives.
“I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders,” said Mulye.
“If he’s the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can.
“This is a capitalist economy and if you can’t make money you can’t stay in business.
“We have to make money when we can. The price of iPhones goes up, the price of cars goes up, hotel rooms are very expensive,” Mulye told the Financial Times.
Shkreli is in jail serving a seven-year sentence for fraud in managing his hedge funds, a charge unrelated to the drug price increase.
Last May, the Trump administration pledged to take on Big Pharma and the soaring cost of drug prices. The administration released a 44-page blueprint called the American Patients First plan to increase drug competition, reduce consumers’ expenses, and create incentives to lower list prices.
“We are going to take on the tangled web of special interests … the drug lobby is making an absolute fortune at the expense of American patients,” Trump said during a speech announcing the new plan.
The Financial Times article stated that Pfizer reversed price increases on 100 drugs after Trump shamed the company for raising drug prices.
However, the article also reported that experts like Michael Rea, chief executive of RX Savings Solutions, who works to lower drug prices said Nostrum’s price increase proved it’s “business as usual in the drug pricing world — contrary to what we hear out of Washington.”
“The public shaming effect is waning and triple-digit price increases are not uncommon,” Rea added.