Pharma Co. Triples Prices For Possible COVID Treatment

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The Trump administration has largely struggled to get a handle on an effective medical supply chain amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Shortages of personal protective equipment and other crucial supplies have been widespread. Earlier this month, a pharmaceutical company called Jaguar Health attempted to step in with its own contribution and requested approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the usage of their antidiarrheal drug Mytesi among Coronavirus patients. Within three weeks of their request, the company raised the price of Mytesi dramatically, spiking the cost of a single 60-pill bottle from $668.52 to $2,206.52, Axios reports.

Mytesi is the only drug that Jaguar Health currently has approved by the Food and Drug Administration for any U.S. usage at all. The company claims that their dramatic price hikes were actually decided on months ago, and rather than functioning as some kind of planned rip-off amidst the pandemic, they supposedly need the increased profit margin to keep from going under as a company.

This April, the company stated:

‘There is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern as we do not currently have sufficient cash resources to fund our operations.’

Jaguar Health CEO Lisa Conte, besides noting that the company supposedly decided on their price hike late last year, “blamed health insurers for making the drug difficult for people to get” and insisted to Axios:

‘The reimbursement barriers are so huge. It’s impossible for us to make a business out of it… [The price increase] is absolutely the right decision for everyone.’

Supposedly, they would have delayed the price increase if the government had, in fact, approved the usage of their drug for Coronavirus patients. The price increase was instituted on April 9, two days after the Food and Drug Administration denied Jaguar Health’s initial request for emergency Mytesi usage, although the company “is still in discussions with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases about evaluating Mytesi’s effectiveness against this coronavirus,” Axios adds. That’s the agency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has figured very prominently in the federal government’s response to the Coronavirus.

Mytesi is ordinarily used for HIV-AIDS patients who may be experiencing unwelcome side effects of their own anti-viral treatments.

Had the Food and Drug Administration approved the crossover usage for Coronavirus patients, it wouldn’t be the first time that a potential profit-induced crossover from an unrelated virus to Coronavirus treatment would have occurred; the Trump administration has also been pursuing the usage of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for Coronavirus, although only sparse anecdotal evidence suggests that the drug has any relevant effect for Coronavirus patients. One recent study, in fact, found that Coronavirus patients who took the medication died at a higher rate than those who did not.

Axios reports that the “U.S. drugmaker of chloroquine doubled the price of its product last month,” suggesting some definite financial windfall preparation behind the Trump administration’s chloroquine push. Dr. Rick Bright indicated this week that he believed he was removed from his post as lead at the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority — which develops vaccines, like for Coronavirus — because of “clashing with Health and Human Services leadership over his attempts to limit the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus.”