Health | News | Vital Signs

Scientists Challenge Pharmaceutical Companies On Drug Pricing

OPB | April 29, 2013 3:37 p.m. | Updated: June 7, 2013 10:17 a.m. | Portland

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One of Oregon’s top medical researchers has joined more than 100 other scientists to challenge the prices that some pharmaceutical companies are charging for life-saving drugs.

OHSU oncologist, Dr. Brian Druker developed the drug Gleevec. It can save the lives of people suffering from chronic myeloid leukemia.

It came onto the market in 2001 at a price of about $30,000 a year.

Now it costs up to $100,000 a year.

Speaking on OPB’s Think Out Loud, Druker said some kind of regulation may be necessary to help reduce prices on critical drugs like Gleevec. 

“We can buy an expensive car, or we can buy a cheaper brand. We have choices. With these life-saving medications we don’t. So that’s why we’ve spoken out about this. We want to make sure that our patients can access these medications at an affordable price.”

The manufacturer of Gleevec — Novartis — issued a statement saying it welcomes the opportunity to be part of a dialogue about a sustainable health care system.

It also said it provides Gleevec free to thousands of Americans each year, and tens of thousands in low-income countries.

A generic version could be available in 2015.

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