US drugs company backs down over 2,000 per cent price increase for tuberculosis drug

Rodelis Therapeutics purchased the drug Cycloserine and tried to raise the price overnight from £324 to £7,003

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The Independent US

An American pharmaceuticals company has backed down over a planned 2,000 per cent price increase for a prominent tuberculosis drug.

Cycloserine, which is used to treat the serious multi-resistance strain of the disease, was purchased by Rodelis Therapeutics last month.

The company then raised the price of the drug overnight from $500 (£324) to $10,800 (£7,003) for 30 capsules, according to the New York Times.

But after a public outcry, the company has handed the rights to the drug, which is used to treat the serious multi resistance strain of the disease, back to previous owners the not-for-profit Chao Center.

The foundation will now charge $1,050 (£681) for 30 capsules, twice the original price but less than 10 per cent of the price demanded by Rodelis Therapeutics.

The foundation’s president, Dan Hasler, said this was the price they needed to sell it at to make the drug viable.

In a statement on their website, the company said: “Rodelis Therapeutics acquired Cycloserine from The Chao Center on August 19, 2015, with the commitment to continue investing resources to ensure the long-term availability of the product.

“Rodelis Therapeutics and The Chao Center mutually agreed last week that it is in the best interests of the patients to return the rights of Cycloserine to The Chao Center.

"Rodelis Therapeutics, which is a privately-held company, remains committed to developing and investing in therapeutics of orphan diseases and high unmet medical needs."

The attempt by Rodelis to increase prices on life-saving treatments is the latest example of a business buying old and rarely used but life-saving drugs and rebrand them as expensive “speciality drugs”, the New York Times reports.

Hedge fund trader Martin Shkreli has come under intense criticism in recent days as his company Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights for a leading HIV drug and increases prices by 5,000 per cent.

He also bought Daraprim - a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a food borne illness that affects people with compromised immune systems.

But Mr Shkreli has so far been unrepentant despite criticism and calls for changes to the law -  even telling journalists they were “morons” for criticising him.