A pharmaceutical company CEO is under fire for describing the price hike of an antibiotic, an increase of approximately 400 percent, as a “moral requirement” and claiming the need “to make money when you can.” The price of nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic used in the treatment of bladder and urinary tract infections, went from $474.74 to $2,393.
Nostrum Laboratories, a Missouri-based company that produces nitrofurantoin, initiated the price hike last month.
Nirmal Mulye, the CEO of the company, stated that market dynamics were responsible for the change, according to a report by The Hill.
“I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can … to sell the product for the highest price,” said Mulye.
He claimed that the increase was a result of a change by Casper Pharma, a drug company that produces a name-brand version of nitrofurantoin under the name Furadantin.
Mulye stated that Furadantin costs $2,800, using their higher cost as a justification for Nostrum Laboratories price increase.
“The point here is the only other choice is the brand at the higher price,” he said. “It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not.”
Mulye also defended Martin Shkreli, the disgraced pharmaceutical CEO who faced significant criticism, including from members of Congress, after increasing the price of a lifesaving drug by around 5,000 percent.
“I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug, he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders,” said Mulye.
“If he’s the only one selling it, then he can make as much money as he can,” he continued. “This is a capitalist economy, and if you can’t make money, you can’t stay in business.”
Mulye quickly came under fire for his comments, including a response by Scott Gottlieb, and commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“There’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients,” said Gottlieb in a tweet.
“FDA will continue to promote competition so speculators and those with no regard to public health consequences can’t take advantage of patients who need medicine.”
1/2 Regarding @FT story today @bydavidcrow; there’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients. FDA will continue to promote competition so speculators and those with no regard to public health consequences can’t take advantage of patients who need medicine
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) September 11, 2018