McCaskill Demands Answers After Rx Drug Price Goes from Free to More Than $100,000 Per Year

WASHINGTON – After a public report that a decades-old drug—that was provided free of charge as recently as 2016—had suddenly seen its price soar to a cost of more than $15,000 per bottle, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is demanding answers from Strongbridge Biopharma, which acquired the drug and relaunched it earlier this year.

“Time and again we’ve seen pharmaceutical companies acquire decades old prescription drugs and gouge consumers—and it’s time we explored every possible way to prevent this practice,” McCaskill said. “I’m prepared to work with the FDA and Congress to see what we can do to prevent these types of sudden price spikes.”

In a letter to Strongbridge President and CEO Matthew Pauls, McCaskill requested additional information on the drug Keveyis, including a detailed description of the factors contributing to the company’s pricing decision and total gross revenue from the company’s sales of the drug.

“Patients suffering from periodic paralysis and all other Americans concerned about price spikes for rare-disease treatments do, in fact, deserve an explanation of recent company decisions,” McCaskill wrote to Pauls.

McCaskill has previously introduced the bipartisan Increasing Competition in Pharmaceuticals Act with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to improve the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process for certain generic applications. By promoting competition in the generic drug marketplace, the bill would help lower costs and improve the accessibility of decades-old prescription drugs.

The legislation stems from the only bipartisan investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to the egregious price spikes for certain drugs, which was led by McCaskill and Collins last Congress. From the beginning, the investigation strived to understand why companies can make these large price increases and to identify which policies should be considered to counter these disturbing practices.

As the former top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Aging Committee, McCaskill embarked on a statewide tour of Missouri during which she heard directly from seniors on issues ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to prescription drug prices. Last year, Americans were expected to spend more than $328 billion on prescription drugs. Of this amount, individuals paid about $50 billion out-of-pocket. The federal government picked up another $110 billion in payments through Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, and other programs

Read McCaskill’s letter online HERE.

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