Senators Susan Collins, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have pressed Strongbridge Biopharma for answers on the dramatic price increase for Keveyis, formerly known as Daranide, a drug that treats glaucoma and a type of rare genetic disease known as periodic paralysis, which causes attacks of muscle weakness or loss of muscle movement.
After a series of companies bought and sold the right to the decades-old dichlorphenamide, the list price was hiked from $50 to $13,650 for 100 pills in 2015. Strongbridge recently acquired the drug and hiked the price even further to $15,001. In a letter to Chief Executive Officer Matthew Pauls, Collins, Klobuchar, and Baldwin urge Strongbridge to take immediate steps to alleviate the burden their price increases have put on patients and to ensure the company’s behavior fully complies with relevant laws, regulations and guidance.
“We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the dramatic price increase for Keveyis, formerly known as Daranide, after Strongbridge Biopharma acquired the drug. As recently as the early 2000s, patients could obtain 100 pills of dichlorphenamide at a list price of $50,” the senators wrote. “Yet, after a series of companies bought and sold the rights to this decades-old drug and obtained a new rare disease designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the list price increased to $13,650 for 100 pills in 2015. Strongbridge recently acquired the drug and hiked the price even further to $15,001. According to a Strongbridge, patients might pay up to $219,000 a year for this medication.”
The senators continued, “We are committed to combatting sudden astronomical price increases as well as any anticompetitive conduct and attempts to game the regulatory process at the expense of Americans in need of life-saving therapies. We urge you to take immediate steps to alleviate the burden your price increases have imposed on patients and to ensure your company’s behavior fully complies with relevant laws, regulations and guidance. Please provide our offices with a written response including any analysis used by Strongbridge Biopharma relating to the pricing or market share of dichlorphenamide since 2015, any research and development and product improvement activities Strongbridge Biopharma has conducted since acquiring this drug, and any information reviewed or generated by the Strongbridge Biopharma Board of Directors relating to the drug over that same period.”
Senator Collins says she is committed to promoting innovation while improving access and affordability of prescription medications for patients, particularly for the 90 percent of our nation’s seniors who take prescription drugs. As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, Senator Collins led a bipartisan investigation last year into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for decades-old off-patent drugs. Following her investigation, a bill that Senator Collins authored to improve generic competition and lower the cost of prescription drugs was signed into law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act.