Paying a visit to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription is often a necessary expense for Americans. The rising price of pharmaceutical drugs is nothing new – it’s been happening for decades But now, one Boston mother is taking on the pharmaceutical industry’s increasing prices after struggling to pay for her son’s cystic fibrosis medication, Orkambi.
Juliana Keeping is taking on Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the hopes that the company will lower the drug’s $259,000-a-year price tag. Together with a band of supporters she met with Vertex CEO Jeffrey Leiden to present him with a petition of 125,000 signatures demanding the drug be made more affordable. She states that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation gave Vertex $75 million for R&D.
“We thought it was a partnership. We thought we were working toward the same goal—to find a cure for a deadly disease. But I, like others who had been praying for these types of drugs, now feel betrayed,” Keeping writes in the petition. “Vertex would not have discovered these drugs if not for the help of the CFF and others who cared about finding a cure.”
The drug, approved by the FDA in 2015, is predicted to generate $5 billion for Vertex by 2018. This news arrives as many major pharmaceutical companies are raising their prices, making continued healthcare crippling for thousands of Americans.
For example, last year Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, purchased and then dramatically raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be fatal for those with HIV and AIDS. It also has the potential to be damaging to pregnant women. In March 2016, it was reported that sales of the drug had dropped from 25,000 to 600. But nevertheless, this poses a major problem for those in need of life-saving medications.
Rodelis Therapeutics acquired the drug Cyloserine, used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, raising the price from $500 for 30 pills to $10,000. According to the Mayo Clinic, 1.8 million people worldwide died in 2015 from MD-TB.
These skyrocketing prices aren’t the case across the globe. The US in particular is stung with some of the biggest price-tags in the industry. The below chart is data taken from the International Federation of Health Plans 2013 report, which details the vast differences:
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