Executive Briefings

Patients Eagerly Awaited a Generic Drug. Then They Saw the Price.

When Teva Pharmaceuticals announced recently that it would begin selling a copycat version of Syprine — an expensive drug invented in the 1960s — the news seemed like a welcome development for people taking old drugs that have skyrocketed in price.

Patients Eagerly Awaited a Generic Drug. Then They Saw the Price.

Syprine, which treats a rare condition known as Wilson disease, gained notoriety after Valeant Pharmaceuticals International raised the price of the drug to $21,267 in 2015 from $652 just five years earlier. Along with similar practices by pharmaceutical executives like Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals and Heather Bresch of Mylan (the maker of the EpiPen), the story helped spark a national conversation about the high cost of prescription drugs, not to mention Congressional inquiries and federal investigations.

In promoting its “lower-cost” alternative to Syprine, a Teva executive boasted in a news release that the product “illustrates Teva’s commitment to serving patient populations in need.”

What the release didn’t mention was the price: Teva’s new generic will cost $18,375 for a bottle of 100 pills, according to Elsevier’s Gold Standard Drug Database. That’s 28 times what Syprine cost in 2010, and hardly the discount many patients were waiting for.

Nearly three years after Valeant’s egregious price increases ignited public outrage, the story of Syprine highlights just how hard it can be to bring down drug prices once they’ve been set at stratospheric levels.

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Syprine, which treats a rare condition known as Wilson disease, gained notoriety after Valeant Pharmaceuticals International raised the price of the drug to $21,267 in 2015 from $652 just five years earlier. Along with similar practices by pharmaceutical executives like Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals and Heather Bresch of Mylan (the maker of the EpiPen), the story helped spark a national conversation about the high cost of prescription drugs, not to mention Congressional inquiries and federal investigations.

In promoting its “lower-cost” alternative to Syprine, a Teva executive boasted in a news release that the product “illustrates Teva’s commitment to serving patient populations in need.”

What the release didn’t mention was the price: Teva’s new generic will cost $18,375 for a bottle of 100 pills, according to Elsevier’s Gold Standard Drug Database. That’s 28 times what Syprine cost in 2010, and hardly the discount many patients were waiting for.

Nearly three years after Valeant’s egregious price increases ignited public outrage, the story of Syprine highlights just how hard it can be to bring down drug prices once they’ve been set at stratospheric levels.

Read full article

Patients Eagerly Awaited a Generic Drug. Then They Saw the Price.