Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in demanding that Araid Pharmaceuticals justify their recent price increases on leukemia medication.
Iclusig, the drug in question, has had its cost raised four times in 2016 alone. Its annual cost is now almost $200,000 annually, leadings Sanders and Cummings to write “these outrageous sales tactics indicate that Ariad is more concerned with its profit than with its patients.” The two lawmakers plan on investigating whether Ariad tweaks pill dosages and quantities in order to charge patients and insurers more money even while providing less medication. “In the interest of patients and taxpayers, we are interested in learning more about the impact that the escalating price and restrictions on product availability have had,” Sanders and Cummings wrote in a public letter to the company.
This isn’t the first time this week that Sanders has put Ariad in the news in an unflattering light. On Sunday, Sanders sent out a tweet criticizing Ariad that caused them to lose $387 million in the stock market. Drug corporations’ greed is unbelievable,” Sanders wrote. “Ariad has raised the price of a leukemia drug to almost $199,000 a year.”
The Ariad scandal is reminiscent of a similar controversy earlier this year from Mylan, another pharmaceutical company. First it came out in August that Mylan had increased the cost of EpiPens by roughly 450 percent, making them cost approximately $600. Then in September Mylan CEO Heather Bresch had to appear before Congress, during which she turned in what was widely regarded as a terrible performance while she was harshly criticized by the attending lawmakers. In response to this, Hillary Clinton released a plan to prevent excessive increases in prescription drug prices, including creating a team of federal officials to protect consumers’ interests, imposing fines and other penalties on drug companies that are discovered gouging prices, and expanding access to treatment.