By THE BLUE AND GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD
The CEO of a pharmaceutical company has recently faced backlash over a 400 percent price increase of the antibiotic, nitrofurantoin.
“I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can… to sell the product for the highest price,” said Nostrum Laboratories CEO, Nirmal Mulye.
The drug in question treats bladder infections, and is on the World Health Organization’s “List of Essential Medications.” Yet, the price of nitrofurantoin changed drastically last month, from $474.74 a bottle to $2,393. Mulye said the price raise was based on “marketing dynamics,” and he said the reason is simple: capitalism.
“This is a capitalist economy, and if you can’t make money, you can’t stay in business.”
Mulye also defended former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, who was widely scorned for raising the cost of a life-saving drug for AIDS and cancer patients from $13.75 a pill to $750, a 5000 percent increase.
Pharmaceutical companies continue to take advantage of patients in need of medicine and blame it on corporate America. Mulye said about Skkreli, “If he’s the only one selling it, then he can make as much money as he can.” Mulye makes it clear his main priority is turning a profit, with no regard to public health consequences.
Furthermore, they often are able to inflate prices to exorbitant amounts because of the time it takes for competitor drugs to get approved by the FDA. EpiPens, the epinephrine injector used for the treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions, are the classic example, with the price increasing to over $600 from around $100 in 2007. Despite causing controversy for years with the price hike of this life-saving product, a generic version was only approved by the FDA a few months ago. It is expected that with this new competition, the price of EpiPens will drop to a more reasonable amount.
The price gouging of medication cannot be justified by earnings. There must be limits to business morality, especially when those businesses’ choices impact the availability of life-saving or essential drugs, or are a threat to public health and inflict harm to the community. Competition must be encouraged so that corporate greed will not be tolerated in the area of pharmaceuticals.