Photo credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America/Creative Commons
Hillary Clinton’s criticism of drug pricing hit a new octave when her campaign released a new ad criticizing Valeant Pharmaceuticals for its repricing of a migraine drug.
The 30-second spot shows presidential candidate reading from a letter at an Iowa campaign event, telling the story of a woman who takes an injectable migraine treatment, known as D.H.E. 45, which cost $180 for 10 shots when the woman first started taking it in the 1980s and has since ballooned to $14,700 for 10 shots.
“The company is called Valeant Pharmaceuticals. I’m going after them. It is predatory pricing and we are going to make sure it is stopped,” Clinton tells a cheering crowd in the ad.
Clinton has already called for empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. She has also said she supports letting Americans re-import drugs from other countries, where they often cost less.
Clinton has received over $1.2 million from the pharmaceuticals and health products industry during the 2016 election cycle, according to federal election commission data from opensecrets.org.
The Clinton campaign told The Wall Street Journal that the ad will air in Nebraska, Kansas, and Michigan this week.
Valeant responded to the video, posting a statement on its website that said after the Iowa event it reached out to the patient, who told the drugmaker that her insurance covers the cost of the drug. The company further defended the drug’s price by saying the product captured less than 1% of the market and that pricing increases were made “to keep production of the drug viable.” The drugmaker added that pricing decisions have to include “the need to fund our robust research and development programs, our expanding US manufacturing base, and our patient assistance programs.”
The drugmaker said it would not comment beyond what it posted on valeantnow.com.
Clinton’s ad is the latest attack in a growing backlash to drugmakers’ pricing practices. In February a House committee convened to question Turing and Valeant executives about how they price their medicines. Also in February, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) proposed a bill that would place a three-year hold on direct-to-consumer advertising from drugmakers, saying the ads contribute to the rising costs of prescription drugs.