A pharmaceutical executive has defended the decision to raise the price of an antibiotic to more than $2,000 a bottle because companies have a ‘moral requirement’ to ‘sell the product at the highest price.’
Nirmal Mulye, the CEO of Nostrum Laboratories, also defended the notorious ‘Pharma Bro,’ Martin Shkreli, who became one of the most hated men in the country for raising the price of a vital AIDS drug by 5,000 per cent.
Mulye was responding to criticism of his company’s decision last month to more than quadruple the price of a bottle of nitrofurantoin.
The price of a bottle went up by 400 per cent – from $474.75 to $2,392, the Financial Times reported.
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that is used to treat bladder infections. It is considered an essential medicine by the World Health Organization.
Nostrum, which is based in Missouri, manufactures the drug in a liquid form.
Mulye defended his company, saying that the price increase was necessary to stay competitive.
‘I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can . . . to sell the product for the highest price,’ Mulye said.
He said that the company’s price hike was a response to an increase in price by a competitor, Casper Pharma.
That company recently boosted the price of Furadantin by 182 per cent – making one bottle worth $2,800.
‘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,’ Mulye said.
He said that he was in ‘this business to make money’ and that he was no different than an art dealer who sells ‘a painting for half a billion’ dollars.
Mulye was also asked about Shkreli, who was sentenced to prison earlier this year on fraud charges unrelated to his decision to boost the price of Daraprim, the AIDS and cancer drug, from $13.50 a tablet to $750 per tablet.
‘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,’ Mulye said.
He said that because Shkreli’s company was the only one manufacturing that drug, he did the right thing in trying to maximize profit.
‘If he’s the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can,’ Mulye said.
‘This is a capitalist economy and if you can’t make money you can’t stay in business.
‘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.’
Drug companies have raised the price of the antibiotic due to a reduction in supply brought on by new Food and Drug Administration regulations.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reacted angrily to Mulye’s comments.
‘There’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients,’ Gottlieb tweeted on Tuesday.
‘FDA will continue to promote competition so speculators and those with no regard to public health consequences can’t take advantage of patients who need medicine.’
Mulye slammed the FDA as ‘incompetent and corrupt’ while dismissing the new regulations on liquid drugs as a ‘piece of nonsense.’
He also accused the federal government of ‘highway robbery’ because of fees that companies needed to pay.