U.S. drugmaker Novum Pharma has come under criticism for raising the cost of a skin ointment commonly used to treat acne to $10,000 a tube.
Forget about that college education fund.
What’s more, the label on the ointment in question, Aloquin, says it is “possibly effective,” meaning there’s just limited clinical evidence that it’s safe and works as intended, according to a report in The Financial Times.
The ointment cost about $240 as recently as last year and has increased by nearly 3,900 percent since Novum bought the drug from its previous owner, Primus Pharmaceuticals, in May 2015, the Financial Times says.
It notes that the key active ingredients in Aloquin, the antibiotic iodoquinol and an extract from the aloe vera plant, are relatively inexpensive: $30 for a tube of generic iodoquinol and a few dollars for aloe vera cream.
Health plans cover a bulk of the costs for Aloquin, a prescription-only ointment. Patients make either a copay or can get a coupon from Novum that cuts their cost to zero or $35 for cash-paying customers, with the rest passed onto the health plan, according to the company’s website.
A company spokesman told the Financial Times that Novum would take revenue generated by raising the price and invest it in programs that make the medicine accessible to more patients.
But the disclosure fueled anger over “price gouging” by drugmakers.
Just yesterday, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch defended her company’s 500 percent price increase for its allergy drug EpiPen, a move that drew withering criticism from members of Congress when it was disclosed. Bresch’s testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee got a chilly reception.
The topic has also made its way into the presidential campaign.
Novum Pharma and Mylan aren’t alone in raising drug prices. DRX, a provider of healthcare price-comparison software, did a survey recently of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs and found that prices more than doubled for 60 and at least quadrupled for 20 since December 2014. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cited by The Guardian, found that the prices of more than 400 generic drugs rose by more than 1,000 percent between 2008 and 2015.
The Twittersphere was aghast at the latest revelations about Aloquin: