Feb 14, 2019 - Health

Drug company raises price of pain reliever by 70%

Egalet, a small pharmaceutical company, has raised the list price of its pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug, Zorvolex, by 70%. A 90-pill bottle of Zorvolex now has a price tag of $650, compared with $383 a year ago, according to Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database.

The big picture: The drug does not generate a lot of relative sales, but the move is indicative of the pricing power drug companies still have, especially when drugs change ownership. The 70% price hike went into effect Feb. 1 — the day after Egalet completed its acquisition of Iroko Pharmaceuticals, the company that had owned Zorvolex.

Details: Zorvolex's new list price, which was spotted by drug pricing data firm 46brooklyn Research, does not include rebates or discounts.

  • There is little data about sales of Zorvolex, a low-dose pain reliever that received FDA approval in 2013. Iroko canceled an initial public offering that year, before sales officially started.
  • Egalet agreed to acquire Iroko last year, and the resulting company is going through the bankruptcy protection process.
  • Egalet is pushing to increase the total revenue of its 6 drugs, including Zorvolex, to at least $80 million annually.
  • A new sales team "will target pain medicine physicians, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, orthopedic surgeons and neurologists in the United States with the intent to build awareness and increase adoption of" its drugs, according to a bankruptcy proceeding plan.

The bottom line: Egalet significantly raised the price of a brand-name drug that has generic equivalents right after it bought the drug, and as it prepares to persuade doctors to prescribe more of the drug.

  • Egalet did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.
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