Sen. Dick Durbin is demanding answers from a Chicago pharmaceutical company that he says drastically increased prices for a skin cream to nearly $8,000 a tube.
Novum Pharma used to sell Alcortin, prescribed by dermatologists, for $226 a tube. The dramatic price increase got the attention of Durbin, who says it is unacceptable.
“I want to know how they will defend this kind of increase,” he said.
A statement from the company says the numbers being cited are inaccurate and the prices stated are not the prices it charges.
Novum purchased the skin cream in 2015 and has since raised the price by more than 4,000 percent. Other drugs the company owns, like Aloquin and Novacort, have also skyrocketed. So Durbin sent a letter to Novum Pharma asking for answers.
“When somebody buys a drug that’s been on the market for years, maybe decades, and decides to run the price up in a matter of days, weeks or months—to dramatically high levels—that’s just greed,” Durbin said.
Nancy Frield, a dermatology patient, said she felt the price increase first hand when she was trying to treat a minor skin irritation.
“I said ‘how could you sleep at night telling people this will cost $900?’” Friel recalled.
Dr. Rachel Pritzker at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology says the increases make it tough to help patients.
“I know how to treat a rash, I know what prescription I want to give,” she said. “I am very much unaware of the variables that are making these prescriptions so hard for me to use.”