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Nostrum Laboratories raises price of essential antibiotic by more than 400% (arstechnica.com)
33 points by kiyanwang 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

It's not a popular opinion here, but I firmly believe that healthcare should be publicly funded at all levels (research, treatment, etc) and free at the point of service. Healthcare shouldn't be rationed on the basis of one's economic output.

My dermatologist recommended a creme to me, but strangely I had to go to a specialist pharmacy to get it as regular pharmacies would not sell it. Even strangely when I talked them I found it was free. Afterwards I looked on the internet and found the prescription cost after the free round is almost $4000 a tube. It also nothing special, just a common combo of two cheaper products in a slightly higher dosage. There are similar products that cost $50 a tube. This was one of the drugs that a set of Pharma execs recommended to jack the price up to ridiculous prices; these folks went from company to company and promoted this idea.

Interesting thought, is it ethically sound to openly clone this drug and make a generic or is that as bad as hiking up the price?

This is a generic. From the article:

> Mulye also noted that rival pharmaceutical company Casper Pharma raised the price of its brand-name version of nitrofurantoin, called Furadantin. Casper hiked the price by 182 percent over three years—between 2015 and 2018—bringing a bottle’s list price to $2,800.

There’s no ethical issue at all. It’s a purely a business issue of whether the market is worth competing in as a new supplier.

Nitrofurantoin was discovered in the 50s, and generic versions are widely available.

But this particular change is more complex. First, the manufacturer is producing an oral suspension, which is substantially more expensive than equivalent generic tablet formations. Second, the price increase seems to have come about due to a shortage in supply, in turn due to unspecified "new rules on impurities from the FDA".

So I guess there's some argument that a limited number of suppliers in the market has pushed up the cost. But the drug is still 3-4 times more expensive than the equivalent oral formulation in the UK, so the definite impression here is "absolutely shameful price-gouging".

When the alternative is death and suffering, yes. Governments should simply adopt the policy of least resistance and stop enforcing patent walls for companies that do this type of price gouging.

Completely agree. I'd like to see more governments doing this. I believe India has created generics for their internal market for expensive drugs.

It's this sort of behavior that has caused Intermountain and other health care companies to join together to make a non-for-profit Civica Rx pharmaceutical company to provide essential generics.


Economists routinely start textbooks by asserting that Economics is not about morality. They say that Right and Wrong is for religions; Economics is a Science. In the late 20th century, the idea that corporations served stakeholders was replaced by the claim that the only purpose of corporations was to serve stockholders. In spite of their shame and coyness, Economics and Stockholders-First promoted ethical systems, making claims of Right and Wrong. Statements that it is a "moral requirement" to "sell the product for the highest price" is just honest reporting on what is taught in colleges and business schools. Although, you probably won't be able to find a direct quote making such a claim. Instead, you will find loose usage of terms like "should" or "is expected to", as in "market players should maximize profits", or "corporations are expected to maximize return on investment."

A telling quote:

"I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders... If he's the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can... We have to make money when we can. The price of iPhones goes up, the price of cars goes up, hotel rooms are very expensive."

If everybody had the same "morale", the world would be doomed in weeks. I tought only clever people ended up CEO, not amoral cowboys. The guy dosen't even think about all the people he has an impact on... I would have laughted my ass of 5 years ago if I red this thinking this was the biggest troll ever, but to realize people actually think like this today is really sickening.

They've always thought like this.

One of the consequences of the Trump presidency is that people have had an in depth look at what kind of people end up CEO.

It's a very tricky situation. IMO the government should regulate pharma a little bit so that they can't arbitrarily increase prices to 400% or some big number in a short time span.

Kelo v. City of New London


The company should be seized by eminent domain and its assets sold to a company that contracts to produce the drug(s) at a reasonable price.

Here, in the former USSR this drug, known as Furadonin, is like dirt cheap, bottom of the barrel cheap.

My view is that drug prices in the United States should be capped at no more than 10% over the lowest price that it is sold for in any of the developed countries, such as Canada, Germany, UK etc.

How much does the company sell this antibiotic for, in Canada?

Or allow importing drugs from those countries, and market forces will make that happen.

So much of our health care system's problems can be explained by fraud and price fixing on a massive scale.. how obvious does it have to be for the an investigation to begin?

Only in the US, correct?

I can't speak to how things are in other countries, but I haven't heard the same stories of obvious fraud from anywhere but the US.

When it's no longer an unspoken tenet of American capitalism.

Good, we are over-using them to the point they may become unusable in the future.

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