Pharma Exec on 400% Drug Price Jump: 'Moral Requirement'

Nirmal Mulye defends move, says he's in the drug business 'to make money'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2018 7:17 PM CDT
Updated Sep 12, 2018 12:33 AM CDT
Stock photo   (Getty Images / Tuomas_Lehtinen)

(Newser) – The founder and president of a pharmaceutical company that last month raised the price of an "essential" antibiotic from $474.75 per bottle to $2,392 per bottle tells the Financial Times the 400% increase was not only justifiable but morally imperative. "I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can . . . to sell the product for the highest price," says Nirmal Mulye, CEO of Nostrum Laboratories, the small Missouri-based drugmaker that makes a liquid version of nitrofurantoin. The World Health Organization lists the antibiotic mixture as an "essential" drug for lower urinary tract infections, CNN reports.

Mulye says his company decided to raise its price after Casper Pharma, which makes another version of the drug, increased its own price 182% between 2015 and 2018. A bottle of that version now sells for $2,800: "The point here is the only other choice is the brand at the higher price. It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not," Mulye says, adding that he's in the pharmaceutical business "to make money." As for another former pharma exec who came under fire for a similar move, Mulye also defended Martin Shkreli during the interview. "If he’s the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can," said Mulye. The FDA commissioner responded to the interview on Twitter: "There’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients."

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