Democrats Request Documentation from Pharmaceutical Companies Regarding Extreme Rate Hikes

May 24, 2011

Today, four senior Democrats with leadership positions on Committees of jurisdiction over health care issues sent letters to URL Pharma, Inc. and Avanir Pharmaceuticals regarding extreme rate hikes for generic drugs that have been widely available and reasonably priced for years. Senator Kohl, and Reps. Waxman, Pallone, and DeGette requested written documentation that responds to a series of questions and requests for materials.

The letter addressed to Dr. Richard H. Roberts, President, CEO and Chairman of URL Pharma, Inc., expressed concern over rate hikes for colchicine, a medication that plays an important role in preventing pain for elderly American gout patients. Once available for pennies per pill, URL’s version of colchicine, Colcrys, now apparently costs almost $5.00 per pill.

The letter addressed to Keith Katkin, President and CEO of Avanir Pharmaceuticals, expressed concern over rate hikes for a combination of quinidine and dextromethorphane, a medication used to treat involuntary emotional outbursts known as pseudobulbar affect. Doctors and patients were understandably upset at the news that this drug, once available for about $20, was now going to be $600.