UNITED STATES—For nearly six years the prescribed drug, H.P. Acthar Gel– used for infant seizure disorder, has increased in the healthcare field. During the years 2011 and 2016, CNN found an analysis showing Medicare spending roughly $2 billion for the drug. Other drugs have been discovered that are just as effective and cheaper for patients besides Acthar. CNBC found that vials of Acthar can cost upwards of $40,000. Their bankruptcy in 2007 led to the increase in price to keep the drug on the market.
A study published by the JAMA Network found that the push for Acthar to be used could be the result of financial incentives or perks for the doctors prescribing them. It was found that almost 19,000 doctors were paid by Acthar drug makers close to $27.5 million within a 3-year period. The same study found that while the drug was encouraged for infant patients suffering from seizures, it has since been given to elderly patients for anti-inflammatory uses in comparison to prednisone.
The Acthar website states, “Acthar is not a steroid, and is thought to work differently than steroids. Acthar is believed to work by helping your body produce its own natural steroid hormones. Natural steroid production helps your body regulate inflammation.” Claims have been made by several doctors against Acthar being the best treatment, one particular statement indicating that there was “[a] lack of evidence for its efficacy in any adult conditions.”
The FDA approved drug had multiple studies on the patients who have taken the drug in the past. One study by CNN found that Acthar was prescribed to individuals with a high chance of morbidity and used as a last resort drug, which has been compliant with the FDA regulations and has resulted in low adverse events.
A lawsuit was filed against Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals last year because of their recent purchase of their competitor, Synacthen. The company denies any wrongdoing or violations of the law. President Donald Trump recently made a comment about pharmaceutical companies saying they are, “getting away with murder.” Trump pointed the blame for the skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices to “the middleman.”
In an effort to find a resolution to the pharmaceutical issues, President Trump is planning to create a drug pricing proposal for the future of Pharma.