(CBS Local) — A Florida-based drug maker is facing charges of price-gouging after hiking the price of a potentially life-saving cancer treatment by 1,400 percent since 2013.
The 40-year-old medication, known as lomustine, has been used by patients suffering from brain tumors and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2013, the drug was reportedly sold to startup company NextSource. Prior to the sale, pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb sold the medicine for $50 per pill. Since NextSource acquired the drug, it has raised the price nine times and is now selling lomustine for a staggering $768 per pill.
“People are not going to be able to afford it, or they’re going to pay a lot of money and have financial liability,” professor of neurosurgery Henry S. Friedman said, via CBS News. NextSource defended the stunning price increase, claiming the company sets its prices based on the cost to develop the drugs and by how much it benefits the patients. In 2017, NextSource hiked the drug’s price by 20 percent in August and another 12 percent in November.
Making matters worse for cancer patients is the fact that there is currently no generic version of lomustine (now called Gleostine) even though there is no active patent preventing one from being made. The Trump Administration and the FDA is reportedly looking to speed up the regulatory review process for over 300 drugs that don’t have a generic competitor to help lower the price of medications.
In October, the FDA approved a new cancer gene therapy that costs patients $373,000 for one treatment. Yescarta, a treatment for adults with large B-cell lymphoma who have not responded to other treatments, was developed by Gilead Sciences. The one-time treatment is actually far less expensive than a similar therapy created by Swiss drug maker Novartis and costs $475,000 per patient.