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Hilary Clinton goes after Valeant for ‘predatory pricing’ Posted 11/03/2016

Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has said in a new advertisement that she is ‘going after’ drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals (Valeant) for its ‘predatory pricing’.

The ad contains footage from a campaign event in Iowa on 28 January 2016 where Hilary Clinton read out a letter from a woman about the astronomical rise in the price of her migraine medication. The drug concerned is D.H.E. 45 (dihydroergotamine mesylate), which is made by Valeant.

Dihydroergotamine is used to treat migraine headaches and cluster headaches. It is an ergot medication that helps narrow widened blood vessels in the head, thereby reducing the throbbing effects of these headaches.

Ellen Mayberry has been taking D.H.E. 45 since the early 1980s, at which time 10 vials cost her US$180. However, the cost for her latest prescription refill (12 January 2016) cost her US$14,729.99 for 10 vials.

In the ad Hilary Clinton calls Valeant ‘one of the companies that is absolutely gouging American consumers and patients’. She goes on to say that she is ‘going after them’ and ‘we’re going to make sure it’s stopped’. She adds that this is ‘predatory pricing’, which is both unjustified and wrong.

Valeant said in its defence that they have had to increase prices due to dwindling demand for the drug and to keep production of the drug viable. They have also offered to assist with Ellen Mayberry’s drug costs through its patient assistance programme, but were told that ‘her insurance provider covers the drug, so it is not a significant out-of-pocket expenditure for her’. Valeant also pointed out that the generic version of D.H.E. 45 (manufactured by Perrigo) is widely available and significantly cheaper.

However, this is not the first time Valeant has drawn attention to itself due to price increases. The company in a single day, raised the price of two drugs, Nitropress (nitroprusside) – a vasodilator used to reduce blood pressure – and Isuprel (isoprenaline) – used for the treatment of bradycardia (slow heart rate), by 212% and 525%, respectively [1].

This is also not the first time Hilary Clinton has come up against the Pharma Industry, she also proposed a US$250 monthly cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and other measures to stop what she called ‘price gouging’ by pharmaceutical companies [2].

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References
1.   GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. US politicians form Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2016 Mar 11]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/General/US-politicians-form-Affordable-Drug-Pricing-Task-Force
2.   GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Senator calls for FTC to investigate drugmakers for antitrust violations [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2016 Mar 11]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/Senator-calls-for-FTC-to-investigate-drugmakers-for-antitrust-violations

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Source: Hilary Clinton, Valeant

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