The president of a pharmaceutical company made headlines when he raised the price of urinary-tract infection drugs by 400%.
Nirmal Mulye is the founder and president of Nostrum Pharmaceuticals. His decision to raise drug prices caused a stir on Twitter with US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Mulye told the Financial Times he and his company had a “moral requirement to sell the product at the highest price.” The spike in prices for an antibiotic mixture called nitrofurantoin, used to treat urinary tract infections, went from $500 per bottle to over $2,300. According to the World Health Organization, the medication is an “essential” for treating lower UTIs.
According to the Financial Times article, Mulye defended Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of an AIDS medication by 5,000% in 2015. For that decision, Shkreli was known as the “most hated man in America.” He was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud after it was found he mismanaged money at his hedge fund.
Mulye was quoted in the article having said, “I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders.”
Gottlieb fired back on Twitter saying, “there’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients.”
But Mulye said in an interview with CNN that the Financial Times story portrays him the wrong way. He said his business nearly went bankrupt and has had to take measures to ensure the employment of his staff.
Mulye recently acquired a plant in Ohio that employs only 100 employees or less. “If I don’t make money, then I can’t create those jobs. And where does the money go when I make it? It goes back into research and hiring new people right here in the US.”
He believes the FDA has placed regulatory burdens on the pharmaceutical industry which led to higher drug prices. The branded version of the antibiotic is currently listed as $2,800, to which Mulye says he is being “vilified.”