A US drug manufacturer has increased the price of a bottle of vitamins – a generic version of which can be bought for around $5 – by more than 800 per cent.
In the latest example of eye-dropping price-gouging in the US’s lightly regulated pharmaceutical industry, records show Avondale Pharmaceuticals, a mysterious company registered in Alabama, raised the price of Niacor from $32.46 to $295.
Niacor is a prescription version of niacin, a type of vitamin B3 that is frequently used to treat high blood cholesterol. A wide range of generic versions of the vitamin are available; Walmart sells a jar of 100 tablets for $14.99 while other brands are available online for even less.
The development will for many recall the controversy surrounding the investor and entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, who became the so-called “most hated man in the US” after he bought the rights to a drug used to treat people with Aids and increased the price by almost 5,000 per cent.
Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive, was convicted in August of two counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy for misleading investors in hedge funds he ran. He is currently in jail awaiting sentencing.
The Financial Times said Avondale Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to Niacor from Upsher Smith, a division of Japan’s Sawai Pharmaceutical, earlier this year. The company also bought the rights to a drug used to treat respiratory ailments, known as SSKI, and increased the price by 2,469 per cent, raising the cost of a 30ml bottle from $11.48 to $295.