A pharmaceutical company is prompting outrage after pulling off a stunt that is reminiscent of the widely despised Martin Shkreli.
A drug company has just done something that calls to mind the widely hated Martin Shkreli, jacking up the price of a life-saving drug to $89,000, or 70 times what it cost before. The drug treats muscular dystrophy and has been around for decades in Europe for a far lower cost, but that doesn’t appear to matter to Marathon Pharmaceuticals, which appears to be hoping to make tons of money of the drug.
Shkreli became famous, or rather infamous, for doing the same thing using his former company Turing Pharmaceuticals, which results in a circus of hearings and investigations and general outrage at Shkreli, who seemed to revel in the hatred. And it’s part of a wide business practice of acquiring older drugs on the cheap and then greatly increasing their prices to make a quick buck at the expense of patients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Marathon’s drug, which is called deflazacort and is meant to treat a rare form of muscular dystrophy that impacts about 12,000 boys in the United States.
“This is the first treatment approved for a wide range of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” said Billy Dunn, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We hope that this treatment option will benefit many patients with DMD.”
The FDA statement adds: “The effectiveness of deflazacort was shown in a clinical study of 196 male patients who were 5 to 15 years old at the beginning of the trial with documented mutation of the dystrophin gene and onset of weakness before age 5. At week 12, patients taking deflazacort had improvements in a clinical assessment of muscle strength across a number of muscles compared to those taking a placebo. An overall stability in average muscle strength was maintained through the end of study at week 52 in the deflazacort-treated patients. In another trial with 29 male patients that lasted 104 weeks, deflazacort demonstrated a numerical advantage over placebo on an assessment of average muscle strength. In addition, although not statistically controlled for multiple comparisons, patients on deflazacort appeared to lose the ability to walk later than those treated with placebo.”