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article imageTuberculosis drug price jumps 2,000%, alarms doctors

By Caroline Leopold     Sep 23, 2015 in Business
A huge overnight price increase of a drug to treat a dangerous form of tuberculosis has been rolled back on due to outside pressure.
Doctors were shocked when they found out that the price of a critical medication for tuberculosis had been raised dramatically for no clear reason.
Last month Rodelis Therapeutics acquired cycloserine and raised the price almost overnight from $15 US per pill to $360 U.S. Due to pressure, the company has handed back the drug to the original owner affiliated with Purdue University.
The price of 30 pills jumped from $500 to a staggering $10,800. Infectious disease doctors were up in arms over the price increase.
Cycloserine is a critical drug used for treatment-resistant tuberculosis. Multi-drug resistant TB is particularly dangerous and requires powerful second-line antibiotics.
"Everyone in the TB community in North America has been going crazy over the last week or so when they realized the price had gone up by over 2,000 per cent," Ottawa University law and medicine professor Amir Attaran told CBC News.
The price hike is a new trend of small pharmaceutical companies buy old drugs that are generic and hiking prices at astonomical levels.
"It's people coming from hedge funds," Attaran told CBC News. 'It is people looking to make a quick buck."
The patent on cycloserine expired long ago. Elsewhere in the world, it sells for 22 cents US a pill. It is considered an essential medicine by the World Health Organization.
According to WHO data about 480,000 people were diagnosed worldwide and 49 percent were successfully treated.
Infographic: Drug Resistant TB Worldwide
Infographic: Drug Resistant TB Worldwide
Centers for Disease Control
Pharmaceutical company Lilly developed cycloserine in the 1960s and iin 2007 gave the North American rights to sell the drug to the Chao Center, a non-profit associated with Purdue University in Indiana.
Last month, the Chao Center transferred the rights to Rodelis Therapeutics, which raised the price.
At about the same time, news broke that Turing Pharmaceuticals had acquired Daraprim, which is used to treat parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, and raised its price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The drug is commonly prescribed to people with HIV/AIDS whose immune systems cannot ward off the infection.
Following the story that Turing pharmaceuticals had jacked up prices on a drug to treat parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, Rodelis backed down and the drug price fell to $35 per pill.
Rodelis will transfer rights back to the Chao Center.
More about cycloserine, rodelis therapeutics, Hedge funds, chao center
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