Sanders presses drug company to explain price hike for leukemia drug

Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) are pressing a drug company to explain a sharp price increase to its drug to treat leukemia.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Ariad Pharmaceuticals questioning an increase in the price of the leukemia treatment Iclusig from $115,000 a year to $199,000 a year. The lawmakers say that the company also cut the number of doses in a package while keeping the price the same, effectively increasing the cost.

{mosads}“These outrageous sales tactics indicate that ARIAD is more concerned with its profit than with its patients,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Sanders made attacking pharmaceutical companies a central part of his presidential campaign this year, and he has been joined by Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, in previous efforts as well. 

Last week, a tweet from Sanders about Ariad’s pricing sent the company’s stock plummeting 15 percent. 

Drug pricing in general has been growing as an issue, with outrage in both parties over the increase in price for EpiPens, for example. 

Sanders and Cummings are requesting documents from the company on its revenue and pricing.   

ARIAD said in a statement that it plans to respond to the lawmakers’ letter, and pointed to the costs of research and development for the drug. 

“We recognize oncology drugs are expensive, but we believe in the importance and efficacy of our products,” the company said in a statement. “Importantly, to achieve its mission, ARIAD has invested more than $1.3 billion in R&D and accumulated losses of approximately $1.4 billion since the Company was founded, which have not been recovered.”

– Updated at 2:50 p.m.

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