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
‘Veto the Cheato’: Americans gathered nationwide for #ImpeachTrump rallies
Frustrated Americans on Saturday attended #ImpeachTrump rallies from coast-to-coast.
The rallies were organized by MoveOn, Indivisible, Democracy for America, the Women's March, Credo and other progressive organizations.
Over 140 events were held nationwide.
[caption id="attachment_1513038" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Map of #ImpeachTrump rallies in the contiguous United States.[/caption]
Many attendees took the time to create hand-made protest signs, while others held printed banners.
‘Weakness doesn’t win elections’: Indivisible co-founder explains why members are holding #ImpeachTrump rallies
The growing support to commence impeachment proceedings by House Democrats is driven by their need to fire up grassroots support to hold control of the chamber, an Indivisible co-founder explained on MSNBC.
"The call for impeachment continues. this as protesters are hitting the street in more than 140 rallies planned across the country. Organizers say the "Impeach Trump" event is a day of action urging House Democrats to start impeachment proceedings," MSNBC's Richard Lui reported Saturday.
"A new survey from the indivisible project finds 80 percent of their respondents say the House should start impeachment proceedings," he noted. "Right now in the House, 63 Democrats and one Republican support impeachment."
Mississippi fast food cashier ‘terminated immediately’ for ugly racist slur on customer’s receipt
The owner of a fast food restaurant in Mississippi "terminated immediately" an employee after a racist and misogynistic slur of patrons.
When Lex Washington visited Who Dat's Drive-Thru in Oxford with her roommate, the cashier listed them on the receipt as "black b*tches in a silver car."
A manager reportedly refused to apologize at the time, and instead "laughed in her face."
A photo of the receipt then spread on social media.