The Daily Bern: Sanders v. Big Pharma Price Gouging

daraprimThe blog for progressive radio show Ring of Fire is shedding light on presidential candidate and US Sen. Bernie Sanders’ efforts to stop greedy pharmaceutical companies from making life difficult for USians in need of affordable, lifesaving medications.

In the national spotlight of shame is Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, who made headlines for raising the price of AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. That’s a hike of about 5,000 percent — and negative press and falling stock prices (thanks to a critical tweet by Hillary Clinton) led the company to backtrack on the increase on Tuesday.

Of course the greedy man was shamed: Think of the people who need Daraprim, which prevents malaria and helps people with HIV-AIDS, expectant mothers fighting toxoplasmosis, and chemotherapy patients.

The Vermont pol was far from alone on Capitol Hill in criticizing Shkreli for his heartless company’s act of blatant greed, but Sanders, working with my old congressional representative, was way ahead of the pack.

From Ring of Fire:

Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old CEO who raised the price of the AIDS drug, is part of a new shoddy and immoral practice of investors buying the rights to older drugs and then raising their prices sharply. This might be news to everyone else, but not Bernie Sanders.

Bernie, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), has been vocal about the problem for some time, and have been sending letters demanding more information from companies that do it. Last week, they sent a letter to a company called Valeant, who raised the price of a heart drug more than 500 percent the day it bought the rights to it. Last year, Bernie and Cummings went after the company that raised the price of Doxycycline, a common antibiotic, from $20 a bottle in 2013 to $1,849 by 2014.

[On Sept. 21], Bernie and Cummings sent a letter to Martin Shkreli requesting more information from his company, calling the move “just the latest in a long list of skyrocketing price increases for certain critical medications.”

Sanders discussed the Turing Pharmaceuticals controversy and Big Pharma greed Tuesday on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.

Callous Shkreli has yet to announce what the new price for Daraprim will be. I suspect Sanders’ people-focused eagle eye is on the case. And I’m grateful for it.

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