News (USA)

Internal memo shows drug profiteer’s company feared ‘sensitive’ HIV/AIDS activists

Shkreli said in an email to one contact: “We raised the price from $1,700 per bottle to $75,000. Should be a very handsome investment for all of us.”

But anticipating a possible backlash, the company warned in an internal memo: “HIV patient advocacy may react to price increase … HIV community is highly organized, sensitive and action-oriented.”

The price increase left some patients with co-pays as high as $16,000, according to the committee’s review of more than 250,000 pages of documents from New York-based Turing.

Turing said Tuesday in an emailed statement that it is “committed to ensuring that no patient will ever be denied access to Daraprim because of cost.”

In addition, the House committee reviewed more than 75,000 pages of documents from Canadian drugmaker Valeant. A memo summarizing the documents said the paperwork shows that CEO J. Michael Pearson decided to buy two life-saving heart drugs, Nitropress and Isuprel, to dramatically hike prices and drive up his company’s revenue and profit.

The drugs treat abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. Laval, Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. bought the drugs for $350 million from Marathon Pharmaceuticals about a year ago and then tripled the price for one and increased the other six-fold. The memo to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform from staff members noted that this came a couple years after Marathon imposed its own, steep price hikes.

The memo also said Valeant identified revenue goals first and then used drug prices to reach those goals, with the drugmaker believing it could repeatedly hike the prices of Isuprel and Nitropress without repercussions because those drugs are administered by hospitals, which are less sensitive to prices than consumers

The drugs generated $547 million in revenue and around $351 million in profits last year alone. The memo said the drugmaker also more than tripled the prices on over 20 additional U.S. products in 2014 and 2015.

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