Company Hikes Price Of "Cadillac" Ambien Nasal Spray By 800% As Drug Companies Defy Trump

  • Written by Zero Hedge
  • Published in Economics

While Pfizer and several drugmakers have loudly touted their decision to roll back some price hikes on popular drugs following pressure from President Trump and the rollout of a new California law designed to discourage drug companies from raising prices, others have continued hiking prices of thousands of drugs. According to Raymond James & Associates drug companies have raised prices 3,653 times on 1,045 different drugs so far this year (drug companies often do one round of price hikes in January and another in the early summer). And according to the Wall Street Journal, the biggest price increases have been reserved for so-called "Cadillac" drugs like a new spray form of the sleeping medication Ambien.

Aytu

Some of the price hikes impacted life-saving drugs like Ampyra, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis. Its owner, Acorda, hiked its price by 20% this year.

Drugs

As for the sleep medication mentioned above, a small Colorado-based company called Aytu Bioscience recently raised the price of the spray formulation sold under the brand name Zolpimist by more than 800%, according to WSJ. 

The median price increase is 8%, but some specific increases have been far greater. Aytu BioScience Inc. raised the list price of a 7.7 milliliter bottle of its sleep aid Zolpimist to $659 from $69.88, while increasing the price of a 4.5 milliliter bottle by 747% to $329.50, according to RELX PLC’s Elsevier Gold Standard Drug Database. The drug is a spray version of zolpidem, the key ingredient in Ambien, which is widely available as cheap generic pills.

In a tactic reminiscent of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Martin Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals, Aytu bought the rights to sell Zolpimist in the US from a Canadian firm called Magna Pharmaceuticals, then jacked up the price.

Aytu, of Englewood, Colo., raised the price of Zolpimist on Tuesday, about a month after buying the rights to sell the drug in the U.S. and Canada from Magna Pharmaceuticals Inc. The practice of buying rights and then raising the price, by companies including Valeant Pharmaceuticals under then-CEO Michael Pearson and Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, has drawn criticism from public officials and others because the companies didn’t invest in developing the drugs.

Asked by the paper for his company's reason for hiking the price of the drug, Aytu CEO Josh Disbrow said the company was just bringing the price of Zolpimist in line with other comparable drugs. He added that people who can't afford the spray version can buy the generic pill form instead. The drug, he said, was designed for the small number of wealthy patients who prefer the oral spray over lower priced pills.

Chief Executive Josh Disbrow said Aytu raised Zolpimist’s list price to bring it in line with the cost of other brand-name sleep drugs. He said Zolpimist was...

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