Pharma chief defends 400% drug price rise as a moral requirement' financialtimes
Last month, Nostrum Laboratories, a small Missouri-based drugmaker, more than quadrupled the price of a bottle of nitrofurantoin from $474.75 to $2,392, according to Elsevier's Gold Standard drug database.
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic used to treat bladder infections that was first marketed in 1953, which appears on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines. It comes in a tablet form as well as a liquid version that Nostrum makes.
In an interview, Nirmal Mulye, Nostrum chief executive, said he had priced the product according to market dynamics, adding: "I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can . . . to sell the product for the highest price."
Mr Mulye said Nostrum was responding to a price rise from Casper Pharma, which makes a branded version of the product known as Furadantin. Casper increased the price of its product by 182 per cent between the end of 2015 and March 2018, taking a bottle to $2,800, according to the Elsevier database.
Casper did not respond to a request for comment.
"The point here is the only other choice is the brand at the higher price. It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not," said Mr Mulye.
Mr Mulye compared his decision to increase the price to an art dealer that sells "a painting for half a billion* dollars" and said he was in "this business to make money".
He also defended the actions of Martin Shkreli, who became infamous in 2015 for his decision to raise the price of an Aids and cancer drug from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. Shkreli was jailed earlier this year on unrelated fraud charges.
"I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders," said Mr Mulye.
Mr Mulye pointed out that Shkreli was able to increase the price of Daraprim so dramatically because his company was the only one making it.
"If he's the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can," said Mr Mulye. "This is a capitalist economy and if you can't make money you can't stay in business."
He added: "We have to make money when we can. The price of iPhones goes up, the price of cars goes up, hotel rooms are very expensive."