Sanders, Cummings Send Letter on ARIAD's Staggering Price Increases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Thursday requesting information about why the company has increased the price of leukemia drug Iclusig four times in 2016 to $199,000 a year.

ARIAD has raised the price of the drug by more than $80,000 over the last several years. Sanders and Cummings are also investigating whether the company took additional steps to boost profits by discontinuing sales of certain dosages and quantities in order to charge patients and insurers more in exchange for less medicine. 

“These outrageous sales tactics indicate that ARIAD is more concerned with its profit than with its patients,” Sanders and Cummings wrote.

ARIAD received approval to market Iclusig in December 2012 for patients who did not respond to available therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia. Within a year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested sales and clinical trials of the drug be suspended due to reports of serious side effects. FDA allowed ARIAD to resume selling Iclusig in December 2013, but only to a smaller subset of patients who are resistant to other treatments.

“Despite this new evidence showing the drug posed a far greater safety risk to patients than was known when the drug came on the market, ARIAD nonetheless raised the price of Iclusig several times over the subsequent four years,” Sanders and Cummings wrote.

“In the interest of patients and taxpayers, we are interested in learning more about the impact that the escalating price and restrictions on product availability have had.”

To read the letter here, click here.