In 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals’ CEO, Martin Shkreli, was dubbed “the most hated man in America” when he increased the price of the life-saving drug, Daraprim, by 5,000 percent overnight–from $13.50 to $750 per pill. However, he’s not the only pharmaceutical CEO jacking up drug prices to increase profits and stock value. Like Shkreli, Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ CEO J. Michael Pearson will do anything to increase profits, but at what cost?
Pearson’s cut-throat business strategies have made him a billionaire. After he was named CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2008, the company acquired more than 100 drugs and increased stock prices by more than 1,000 percent.
According to Pearson, this is the plan. In an interview with MSNBC, Pearson went on record saying his company’s loyalty lies with shareholders, not sick people who need the medication provided by his company.
“My primary responsibility is to Valeant shareholders,” said Pearson in the interview. “We can do anything we want to do. We will continue to make acquisitions, will will continue to move forward.”
“If products are sort of mispriced and there’s an opportunity,” he added, “we will act appropriately in terms of doing what I assume our shareholders would like us to do.”
Valeant price hikes
In 2015, Valeant Pharmaceuticals gained notoriety when Pearson made the decision to increase the price of Syprine, a drug that treats a rare and potentially fatal condition called Wilson disease. Valeant increased the price from $652 to an eye-popping $21,267. This was a death sentence for patients who could not afford to spend the equivalent of the price of a small car on a medication every single month.
Syprine was not the only drug whose price seemed to explode overnight. The company targeted another drug which treats Wilson disease, Cuprimine, and more than quadrupled the price overnight. One patient reported paying $366 for 120 pills one month, and the next he paid $1,800 while Medicare picked up the rest of the tab–a whopping $35,000 per month. This brings the list price of the drug to $36,800 for a single month’s supply.
In other words, when these pharmaceutical companies are allowed to extort sick people, patients and taxpayers (via Medicare) pick up the tab while pharma CEOs continue to line their pockets.
Drug pricing investigation blocked by Republicans
In April, the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation to find out how and why drug companies set their prices. But House Republicans Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent letters to the pharmaceutical CEOs, urging them to not send the requested information. According to Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Jordan and Meadows, fearing the information would harm the pharmaceutical companies’ stock prices, interfered with the investigation.
Drug pricing is a major platform point for many of the candidates running in the 2020 presidential race. For more coverage of drug pricing scandals and legislature, like us on Facebook or visit us at medicareworld.com.