The CEO of a pharmaceutical company is facing backlash after he justified the 400 percent price increase of an antibiotic as a “moral requirement.”
Last month, the Missouri-based Nostrum Laboratories raised the price of the antibiotic nitrofurantoin from $474.74 a bottle to $2393, the Financial Times reports. The drug is primarily used for urinary tract and bladder infections.
Citing market dynamics as the reason for the increase, Nostrum CEO Nirmal Mulye said that it’s a “moral requirement” to go after big profits when the time is right.
“I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can … to sell the product for the highest price,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Mulye defended Martin Shkreli, the now disgraced pharma CEO, also known as “Pharma Bro,” who first gained notoriety for raising the price of the anti-parasite drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent while he was CEO of the company then known as Turing.
1/2 Regarding @FT story today @bydavidcrow; there’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients. 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
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) September 11, 2018
“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.
“If he’s the only one selling it, then he can make as much money as he can,” he added. “This is a capitalist economy, and if you can’t make money, you can’t stay in business.”
Shkreli is now serving time in prison on unrelated fraud charges.
Responding to Mulye’s comments, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the idea that there’s a moral imperative for drug companies to price gouge is false.
“There’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients,” Gottlieb tweeted.
“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.”
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube