Marathon Pharmaceuticals just got FDA approval for a drug that has been available in Europe, and they've done something that is making people very angry.
A new drug has everybody fuming, and some drawing comparisons to the widely hated hedge fund managers Martin Shkreli. A newly approved potentially life-saving drug has just had its price jacked up to $89,000, but now the maker, marathon Pharmaceuticals, is suspending the rollout of the drug in the wake of the backlash.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved deflazacort, which has been available in Europe for many years to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy at a fraction of the price. But Marathon’s decision to greatly increase the price prompted a letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Elijah Cummings accusing the company of abusing a government drug incentive program.
Marathon claims that anyone who needs the drug will indeed have access to it through insurance, as well as throug patient assistance programs through the company.
“Marathon’s apparent abuse of government-granted exclusivity periods and incentives to sell what should be a widely available drug for $89,000 a year is unconscionable,” Sanders and Cummings wrote in the letter. “Exorbitantly pricing potentially life-saving medications that should be widely available for a fraction of the price hinders patient access and drives up costs for the entire health care sector.”
“We believe Marathon is abusing our nation’s ‘orphan drug’ program, which grants companies seven years of market exclusivity to encourage research into new treatments for rare diseases – not to provide companies like Marathon with lucrative market exclusivity rights for drugs that have been available for decades,” Sanders and Cummings wrote.