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Bernie Sanders And Rep. Cummings To Ariad: Explain Why Iclusig Now Costs $199,000 A Year

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Bernie Sanders And Rep. Cummings To Ariad: Explain Why Iclusig Now Costs $199,000 A Year

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) delivered a letter to Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARIA) President and CEO Paris Panayiotopoulos.

The purpose of the letter is to request information as to why the company felt justified in boosting the price of its Iclusig (ponatinib) several times over the past four years, including four price increases this year alone.

Iclusig is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Ariad received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market Iclusig in late 2012. Upon entry, the company sold its therapy to patients for a cost of $115,000 per year.

Related Link: Exclusive: SunTrust Managing Director Shares Thoughts On Drug Pricing, Impact On Biotech

Ariad was then forced to halt sales of Iclusig after further review of clinical data showed that one in four patients developed blood clots or narrowing of blood vessels. The company only regained the FDA's approval in December 2013 to sell its therapy to a smaller subset of patients and place additional warnings on the drug's labels.

The letter continued that despite the safety risk to patients, Ariad raised the price of Iclusig to $199,000 per year. The company also took steps to boost its profit by discontinuing sales of a two-month supply of its 15 mg dose and sold a one-month supply instead for the same price.

"These outrageous sales tactics indicate that Arias is more concerned with its profit than with its patients," the letter added.

With that said the two politicians are demanding the following information from 2012 to the present:

    1. Total gross and net revenue and profits from the sales of the drug.
    2. The dates, quantities, purchases and prices paid for all sales of the drug.
    3. Total expenses related to the development of the drug.
    4. Sales contracts or purchase agreements for all ingredients in the drug.
    5. A list of financial and non-financial factors to justify the price increase.
    6. An explanation why the two-month supply is no longer sold.
    7. Current and future sales projections of the drug along with cost estimates.
    8. A list of any patient assistance or coupon programs that are available.
    9. Prices of the drug in all foreign countries and markets.
    10. The identity of company official(s) responsible for setting the price of the drug.

At last check, Ariad was down 3.89 percent on the day, trading at $10.39.

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