Bernie Sanders slams company for 'egregious' $375K drug price hike

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Monday he is looking into why one pharmaceutical company hiked the price of a drug by hundreds of thousands of dollars in December.

Sanders is sending a letter to the CEO of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals regarding its drug – Firdapse – which treats a rare neuromuscular disease called Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS). Sanders said as of December, the company began to list the drug for $375,000 despite the fact that it had previously been accessible to patients via Jacobus Pharmaceutical for free under the Food and Drug Administration’s "compassionate use" program.

The compassionate use program offers patients with serious or life-threatening conditions expanded access to drugs for treatment outside of clinical trials under certain cirumstances.

Catalyst licensed the rights to the drug and recently received exclusive rights to market it for seven years. The price hike was revealed last month.

Sanders called the decision a “blatant fleecing of American taxpayers” and “an immoral exploitation of patients who need this medication.” He asked the company to detail how many patients will suffer or die as a result of the decision.


A spokesperson for Catalyst said the company will respond to Sanders' letter in a timely manner and that improving patient care is a top priority.

Targeting high drug prices has been a priority for the Trump administration. The president said last month that drug prices declined last year for the first time in nearly 50 years. He claims that during the first 19 months of his presidency Americans saved $26 billion on prescription drugs.