Companies raised prices for valsartan following recalls

Following a series of valsartan recalls over carcinogenic impurities, at least three sellers of the popular blood pressure medication hiked their prices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Alembic Pharmaceuticals of India raised the price of a 90-count bottle of 80 mg tablets from $29.98 to $155.11—more than a five-fold increase.

Another India-based company, Macleods Pharmaceuticals, increased their valsartan prices between 216 percent and 306 percent, according to the newspaper, while AmerisourceBergen’s American Health Packaging unit lifted their prices between 57 percent and 63 percent.

These price increases occurred last July and August, shortly after the valsartan recalls began.

“One of our roles is to create a nimble supply chain that can react quickly to market opportunities,” Alembic managing director Pranav Amin told analysts during an October conference call, according to the WSJ. “So, we could respond very fast to the valsartan opportunity, and we could ramp up our supplies and we could get on the market at a high price.”

Opportunistic price increases are common when drugs experience a shortage or a recall. An analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last fall found prices of 90 different medications increased at double their normal rate once shortages occurred, and even sharper increases were observed when three or fewer suppliers controlled the market for those products.

The list prices of medications don’t always affect patients directly because pharmacy benefit managers and other purchasers may negotiate lower prices through rebates and discounts. But a WSJ review of CMS data suggests community retail pharmacies in the U.S. are paying an average of 31 cents per valsartan tablet—up from 10 cents per tablet last July.

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