The CEO of drug company Nostrum Laboratories said this week it was a “moral requirement” to sell drugs at high prices.
Nirmal Mulye made the remark during an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday when asked of his company’s dramatic price hike of the antibiotic Nitrofuratoin.
The Missouri-based drug maker more than quadrupled the price of the drug which is used to treat bladder infections and appears on the World Health Organization’s essential medicines list.
Mulye told the Financial Times “it is a moral requirement to make money when you can...to sell the product for the highest price.”
He justified this by noting that there was only one other version of the drug, which retails at an even higher price.
“It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not,” Mulye said, comparing himself to an art dealer that sells “a painting for half a billion dollars,” adding that he was in “this business to make money.”
Mulye also accused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as being “incompetent and corrupt,” claiming that it was “highway robbery” that drug makers had to pay increased fees to the regulator.
Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s commissioner, addressed Mulye’s comments on Twitter.
“There’s no moral imperative to price gouge and take advantage of patients,” he said. “FDA will continue to promote competition so speculators and those with no regard to public health consequences can’t take advantage of patients who need medicine.”
Nostrum’s price hike comes as President Donald Trump’s administration battles the soaring cost of prescription drugs in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Trump rolled out a blueprint detailing how his administration planned to lower drug prices, a top 2016 presidential campaign promise.
In July, Trump announced Pfizer Inc. was rolling back drug prices after he spoke with Pfizer's chief executive officer and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!,” Trump said in a tweet.
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