Senators launch probe into why price of cancer drug increased 1400 percent

Senators launch probe into why price of cancer drug increased 1400 percent
© Greg Nash

Three U.S. senators are asking why a 40-year-old cancer drug has increased in price by 1,400 percent since 2013. 

The drug in question, lomustine, was introduced in 1976 to treat brain tumors and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lomustine, which has no generic competition, cost $50 for a capsule with the highest dose in 2013. Now a capsule with the same dose costs $768. 

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Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senators look for possible way to end shutdown MORE (R-Maine,) Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoStacey Abrams meets with top Democrats about 2020 Senate run Here are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown Dem rep asks for asks for pay to be withheld during shutdown MORE (D-Nev.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.) asked Tri-Source Pharma CEO Robert DiCrisci in a letter to explain the price increase and how much of a profit it makes from the drug. 

Tri-Source's subsidiary NextSource Biopharmaceuticals supplies the product in a deal with a drug manufacturer, and has raised the price nine times since acquiring it in 2013 from a different company, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

The newspaper compared the situation to a move made by Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015, when CEO Martin Shkreli acquired an off-patent drug and increased the price from about $14 a pill to $750 a pill.

The senators also asked the company for information regarding its expenses related to the sales of the drug, all documents and communications referring or relating to the drug's cost estimates and profit projections, and a list of all drugs sold by the company that have increased in price by at least 200 percent in a single year.