Bad-boy pharmaceutical company CEO Shkreli says fraud charges against him are …

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Explosion in Somali Capital Kills 1 Person, Wounds Governor.

There is ample evidence that drug prices have been pushed to astronomical heights for no reason other than the desire of drug makers to maximize profits.

French President Francois Hollande’s popularity declined in December while Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s ratings remained stable, according to a BVA survey for Orange and I-tele released Saturday.America’s most notorious pharma exec spent the day after his securities fraud arrest playing online chess, scrolling through women’s dating profiles and chatting with supporters.Trenton, New Jersey: The pharmaceutical executive reviled for price-gouging resigned Friday as head of the drugmaker Turing Pharmaceuticals, a day after being arrested on charges of securities fraud related to a company he previously ran.

Prices in many cases far exceed what’s needed to cover the costs of research and clinical trials, and some companies have found ways to rake in profits even without shouldering the cost of drug development. Hollande’s approval rating fell to 30 percent from 33 percent in November just after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, according to the survey. Clad in a purple PBS T-shirt and a pair of pajama bottoms, Martin Shkreli hosted a marathon live stream via his YouTube channel Friday night, hours after he stepped down as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug company infamous for its pill price gouging.

But his strategy of finding an old drug, raising its price, and taking the profit is one that’s increasingly common among a new breed of drugmakers. The two worst offenders are bottom feeders that simply buy companies they believe have underpriced their drugs and then quickly raise prices to astronomical levels. The measures targeted the Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting emissions from new power plants and a second standard that covers existing facilities. Disdaining a business model dependent on expensive research and development, companies like Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., Rodelis Therapeutics and others have taken advantage of inefficiencies in the U.S. health-care system.

Federal prosecutors claim he ran two of his former companies — a biotech firm and a hedge fund —like a Ponzi scheme, looting one to pay off debts from the other. “I can’t really talk about business or anything. It also protected its high-priced dermatology drugs by urging doctors to send prescriptions to a mail-order pharmacy that would make sure no cheaper alternative was substituted. Turing also issued a statement that business would continue as usual and that no patient would be denied access to Daraprim, the drug whose price hike made Shkreli a pariah to both patients and other pharmaceutical companies. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group, described Turing and Valeant as essentially investment vehicles “masquerading as pharmaceutical companies.” Yet even some mainstream companies have set high prices that seem hard to justify. Shkreli — who previously refused to play it for the public, saying Taylor Swift could listen to it in exchange for sexual favors — played an R.E.M album instead.

Turing also said it was sending a similarly worded letter to doctors stressing that it will continue to offer financial assistance to eligible patients needing Daraprim who are either uninsured or have commercial insurance. Eli Lilly said its new lung cancer drug, Portrazza, would cost about $11,430 a month in the United States, six times the $1,870 price that leading oncologists said in a recent journal article would be a fair reflection of the benefit the drug offers compared with older therapies.

Similarly, Pfizer set the list price for Ibrance, a drug to treat a form of advanced breast cancer, at $9,850 a month, a price that remains high even after the 20 percent discount demanded by insurers. The company announced Friday that Shkreli has resigned as CEO. “Shkreli has become the Wolf of Pharma Street — he’s basically come to represent everything that was bad and wrong with pharma,” Art Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University, said by phone. And while Shkreli may be reviled, said Caplan, “he’s not doing anything in terms of prices that other companies haven’t done.” Like Shkreli, Valeant Chief Executive Officer Mike Pearson has excelled at finding cheap drugs, boosting their cost and reaping the rewards. Amid a deluge of criticism from patients and politicians, Shkreli pledged to lower Daraprim’s price, but later reneged and instead offered hospitals a 50 per cent discount — still amounting to a 2,500 per cent increase.

Rodelis was working to ensure “long-term availability” of the tuberculosis drug, and planned to maintain patients’ access, the company said on its website. On Thursday, federal prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2014, Shkreli lost some of his hedge fund investors’ money through bad trades, then looted Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company where he was CEO, for $11 million to pay back his disgruntled clients. The drug’s rights were returned to the nonprofit Purdue Research Foundation, who sold it to Rodelis earlier this year, in September after an outcry over the price increase. Shkreli, a flagrant self-promoter who recently said he should have hiked the price of Daraprim even more, was paraded in handcuffs by the FBI after his arrest. Experts have proposed several ways to reduce drug prices, like fostering greater competition among drug companies or allowing the government to negotiate lower prices.

Photos of him, wearing a grey hoodie as he was escorted by authorities, spread on the internet like wildfire, generating social media posts celebrating his apparent fall. Encouraging the development of innovative drugs and setting prices in ways that make lifesaving medicines affordable to all are not mutually exclusive ideas. Questcor raised the price in 2007 because Acthar was no longer profitable, according to Mallinckrodt, and since it was acquired Mallinckrodt says its price increases have been in line with or below inflation. Big price increases are just business, Shkreli has said. “I think health-care prices are inelastic,” he said at an event in New York this month. “I could have raised it higher and made more profits for our shareholders.” Shkreli has previously said that his goal is to use his financial gains to develop new drugs and that he gives much of his company’s medicine away for pennies.

Tilles also thanked Shkreli “for helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research-focused company it is today,” a reference to Shkreli’s after-the-fact claim that he needed to raise Daraprim’s price so much to fund research on other drugs. And he’s taken pains to distance himself from Turing and Shkreli. “To compare us to Turing is ridiculous,” Pearson said during a Dec. 15 interview with CNBC. “That is a single-product company.” Valeant declined to comment for this story.

Yet Pearson has criticized Big Pharma companies for overspending on research, and the company has said that it looks for products that can be sold better and more profitably by Valeant. KaloBios had announced plans to stop research programmes on two drugs and shut down the company shortly before Shkreli and an invested group swooped in on November 19, bought 70 per cent of its shares and promised a $3 million stock investment and $10 million in financing. Miller has been a frequent critic of drugmakers, and he sits at the other side of the negotiating table, managing pharmaceutical costs for health insurers. “We have a new class of leadership at these organizations that no longer feels encumbered by the social contract that had previously existed,” Miller said. Shkreli and the CEOs of other major drug companies should be called to testify before Congress immediately,” Cummings said Friday in a statement. “They should be required to produce all of the documents that have been requested of them.” Until Thursday, Shkreli had been flying high despite the personal scorn his business practices had brought upon him.

Last month, he acquired a majority stake in a floundering drugmaker, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc., sending its shares soaring, and named himself CEO.

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