30 Sep, 15 | by EBM
By Dr. Geoffrey Modest
I realize that I have blogged lots about drug company malfeasance/shenanigans. But they keep on coming and seem to be getting worse. Here is another from the NY Times on Daraprim (the brand name for pyrimethamine, a 62-year old drug used for parasitic infections, most notably for toxoplasmosis in HIV-infected patients but also occasionally for acute malaria) — see http://nyti.ms/1PgLfRl. [Thanks to Paul Susman for bringing this to my attention].
- Turing pharmaceuticals just acquired the drug and “immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50”, though several years ago it was $1/pill. Of note, “Daraprim’s distribution is now tightly controlled, making it harder for generic companies to get the samples they need for the required testing”.
- Also, cycloserine (used to treat multi-drug resistant TB) was recently acquired by Rodelis Therapeutics, which increased the 30-day supply from $500 to $10,800
- The frequently-used antibiotic doxycycline went from $20/bottle in Oct 2013 to $1849 in April 2014
- And, from NPR’s All-Things-Considered (see http://n.pr/1J2qmnE ), naloxone (Narcan, available since 1971), the main drug used to reverse potentially lethal opioid overdoses, is now a national focus in dealing with the opioid crisis (huge increases in the numbers of people trained to use it, large-scale programs to distribute and make free access to the intranasal form for opioid users, police, etc.) Injectable naloxone had been about $1/shot. The intranasal naloxone is made by only one company (Amphastar). NPR comments that in Baltimore, the price of naloxone in February of $20/dose jumped to $40/dose in July (thanks to sarah taylor for this reference).
- And, speaking of opioids, though this is more an FDA and drug company joint shenanigans, oxycontin was just approved for kids over 11 years old (see http://nyti.ms/1KRRDut for the FDA press release and http://nyti.ms/1N19lT0 for an editorial). However, there are several studies finding that children are at a higher risk of addiction than adults (see blogs in http://bit.ly/1PNzEtg and a USA Today article http://usat.ly/1LdOLxA ). My feeling on this is that there are some small numbers of kids who need chronic opioids for pain control, that fentanyl patches are already available, and that oxycontin has such a long history of abuse/addiction and is already being abused by kids (“1 in 25 high school seniors has abused oxycontin” per the USA Today report, the number of prescription painkillers has quadrupled since 1999, and >44,000 Americans die of drug overdoses every year). So, seems to me that the risks far outweigh the benefits (except for Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which is undoubtedly laughing all the way to the bank….)