Early this year, Valeant Pharmaceuticals pledged to offer hospitals up to 30 percent off the list price for their expensive heart medications. Three months later, top heart hospitals – like the Cleveland Clinic – are still waiting for the pharmaceutical company to make good on their promise.
The drugs in question – Nitropress and Isuprel – are commonly used by healthcare facilities to treat patients with heart problems. After acquiring the drugs in 2015, Valeant raised their prices so much that the Cleveland Clinic alone spent $5.3 million on the heart drugs last year.
“I think we definitely would be among the top users,” said Scott Knoer, the chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “I would assume we would be on that list.”
This situation isn’t unique to the Cleveland Clinic; other large hospitals around the US, including Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and New York-Presbyterian, have also heard nothing regarding the promised price cuts. Two weeks ago, Valeant’s chief executive pledged to investigate the claim that not one hospitals had received the discounts on the heart drugs, but hospital administrators say nothing has changed.
Valeant said it would offer the discounts through two companies, including Premier, who deal directly with drugmakers to negotiate pricing for hospitals. According to Premier, the discounts were minimal, and only two of its 2,500 member hospitals had received the promised 30 percent price cut. “Valeant, unlike many other companies, has never really been interested in participating in a competitive market,” said a spokeswoman for Premier.
Valeant has generated considerable controversy by employing a business model of buying old drugs and substantially raising their prices. After acquiring Nitropress and Isuprel in February last year, the company increased the drugs’ prices by over 300 and 700 percent, respectively.
In an attempt to repair their image after the drug pricing controversy, Valeant dismissed its CEO, J. Michael Pearson. Valeant’s new CEO, Joseph C. Papa, is reportedly optimistic about unveiling the discount program for the two drugs.
“What we’re now doing is to resolve some of those difficulties that some of the players have experienced,” he said. “I now believe we’ve got a solution to this question, and I look forward to being able to announce this.”