Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Inc, rebuked by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for its high drug prices, on Thursday defended its $375,000 treatment for a rare disease, saying the price was in line with similar products in the industry.
Sanders, a vocal critic of high drug prices, had written to Florida-based Catalyst earlier this month, asking it to justify its price for Firdapse, a medication for a rare neuromuscular disease that affects about one in 100,000 people in the United States.
Drug pricing has been a major talking point in the United States for the past few years. It was also one of the campaign promises made by President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections, but so far the debate has not resulted in lowering healthcare costs for Americans.
The Trump administration last month proposed a rule to overhaul the industry’s system of rebates, or discounts, while Sanders last month unveiled legislation aimed at lowering drug prices.
For years, patients were able to get Firdapse for free from Jacobus Pharmaceuticals, a small New Jersey-based drug company that offered the drug through a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program called “compassionate use.”
The program allows patients with rare diseases and conditions access to drugs not yet approved outside of a clinical trial, when there is no viable alternative.
Catalyst bought the U.S. rights to the drug in 2012 and got approval to sell it in the United States in November last year.
The company said, before its November approval, only about 200 of an estimated 3,000 Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS) patients in the United States received some form of Firdapse, pointing to a large unmet medical need.
“Now, for the first time, LEMS patients have confidence their therapy is FDA approved and is safe and effective,” Catalyst’s Chief Executive Officer Patrick McEnany said in a letter.
The office of Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020, was not immediately available for comment.
The company said that Firdapse’s price was similar to other products that provide a significant clinical benefit in treating ultra-rare diseases, adding it believed the drug would be widely reimbursed by insurers for the small population it treats.
Physicians can write a prescription where Firdapse will be delivered to a patient’s door and in most cases at an out-of-pocket cost of less than $10 per month, Catalyst said.
Reporting by Manas Mishra and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Sweta Singh
George Floyd’s brother tears up discussing condolence phone call from Trump: ‘It hurt me’
The brother of George Floyd described the condolence phone call he received from President Donald Trump during a Saturday interview on MSNBC.
Philonise Floyd was interviewed by the Rev. Al Sharpton on "Politics Nation."
While Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder, the other three officers involved in the killing remain free.
"They all need to be convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty," Floyd said.
"What was the conversation with President Trump like?" Sharpton asked.
"It was so fast," Floyd replied.
"He didn't give me an opportunity to even speak. It was hard, I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept like pushing me off, like 'I don't want to hear what you're talking about.' And I just told him I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight."
Bill Barr slammed by ex-FBI official for ignoring the right-wing ‘Boogaloo Bois’ infiltrating protests
Attorney General Bill Barr was slammed by the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday for misleading Americans about the source of violence at the protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
"There's evidence developing, Brian, that the organization we're seeing of the most violent protesters is coming from a couple of disturbing places," both, by the way, there's disparate in terms in being from the right or the left. here's what those who monitor these groups and sites are seeing.
"We're seeing a far-right group, one group for example known as the Boogaloo Bois, who on their private Facebook page and social media outlets are calling for violence, calling for people to show up," Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC's Brian Williams.
Trump is the ‘greatest troll in the history of the internet’ and Twitter needs to ‘pull the plug’: NYT columnist
President Donald Trump would face an existential crisis if Twitter were to enforce it's own rules and hold him accountable -- and one New York Times columnist wants to see it happen.
"C’mon, @Jack. You can do it," Maureen Dowd wrote, referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with his username on the platform.
She urged Dorsey to "just pull the plug on him."
"You could answer the existential question of whether @realDonaldTrump even exists if he doesn’t exist on Twitter. I tweet, therefore I am. Dorsey meets Descartes," she explained. "All it would take is one sweet click to force the greatest troll in the history of the internet to meet his maker."