[Ip-health] WSJ: Drug Price Hike Sparks Senate Probe

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Apr 2 22:32:25 PDT 2018



Drug Price Hike Sparks Senate Probe

Three senators request information from Tri-Source Pharma over 1,400% jump
in price of Lomustine

By  Peter Loftus
Updated April 2, 2018 1:19 p.m. ET

Three U.S. senators are seeking more information from a Florida company
that has steadily increased the price of a 40-year-old cancer drug,
lomustine, in recent years.

Sens. Susan Collins (R., Maine), Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Catherine
Cortez Masto (D., Nev.) sent a letter dated March 22 to Tri-Source Pharma
LLC Chief Executive Robert DiCrisci, saying, “We would like to better
understand the factors contributing to the rising cost of lomustine.” Mr.
DiCrisci also is CEO of NextSource Biotechnology, the Tri-Source unit that
markets the drug under the brand name Gleostine.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has previously investigated and held
hearings about steep price increases for prescription drugs sold by
companies including Valeant Pharmaceuticals InternationalInc. and Turing
Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Collins is the chairman of the committee, Ms.
McCaskill is the former ranking Democratic member and Ms. Cortez Masto is a

The letter to Mr. DiCrisci cites a December report by The Wall Street
Journal about the 1,400% increase in the price of the highest dose of
lomustine since NextSource acquired rights to the drug in 2013, to about
$768 per capsule. The rising cost has put it out of reach of some patients
and generated criticism from cancer doctors.

The letter asks for company documents and information since 2011 about
sales, profits and expenses for the drug, and any documents that the
company may have provided in response to requests from other government

A spokesman for NextSource said it would honor the Senate committee’s
request for more information.

NextSource boosted the price again by 20% in February to about $922 per
capsule, according to price-data tracker Elsevier.

For many years, lomustine was marketed under the brand name CeeNU by
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. , which charged about $50 a capsule for the
highest dose, before selling the product in 2013.

NextSource previously said it based the price of lomustine on
product-development costs, regulatory-agency fees, and the benefit the
treatment delivers to patients. After the February price increase,
NextSource said it was expanding a patient-assistance program to provide
the drug free or at a reduced cost to patients with financial hardship,
regardless of insurance status.

Introduced in 1976, lomustine treats brain tumors and Hodgkin lymphoma.
Although it is off-patent, the drug faces no generic competition.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking to encourage more
competition for drugs like lomustine, one of at least 319 drugs for which
U.S. patents have expired but which have no generic copies, according to a
list the agency published in December.

Three U.S. senators sent a letter to Tri-Source Pharma LLC’s CEO seeking
more information about price increases for a cancer drug: Sens. Susan
Collins (R., Maine), Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Catherine Cortez Masto
(D-Nev.). Ms. McCaskill is the former ranking Democratic member of the
Senate Special Committee on Aging. An earlier version of this article
omitted Ms. Cortez Masto and misidentified Ms. McCaskill as the ranking
member of the aging committee. (April 2, 2018)

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus at wsj.com

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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