Pharma Under Fire Over Pricey Drugs for Kids

Lawmakers lash astronomical hikes in drugs for rare diseases
By Green Point,  Newser User
Posted Jul 27, 2008 7:37 AM CDT
The federal government's Orphan Drug Act deals with drugs treating rare diseases. Companies say hike the prices of orphan drugs to afford researching their long term effects.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – In the face of astronomical hikes in the price of drugs used to treat children, a congressional committee is looking into why companies have increased prescription costs as much as 18-fold when related research and marketing expenses are stable, according to lawmakers. One such company charges $69,000 for a three-vial drug treating infantile spasms—while a $15 alternative exists, reports Portfolio.

Corporate executives say price hikes increase availability of orphan drugs—those that treat very rare diseases—and also cover research expenses, as the long-term effects of some of these drugs are unknown. But politicians suspect the boost is largely due to corporate greed. Questcor, maker of the spasm drug, spends only 9.5% of its sales revenue on research and innovative drug development.