Hospira refutes high pricing of paclitaxel during drug shortage
The Canadian subsidiary of USA-based injectable generic drugs specialist Hospira (NYSE: HSP) has refuted press reports regarding its supply and pricing strategy with regard to the cancer drug paclitaxel.
Shortage of the drug, used to treat breast, lung and ovarian cancer, occurred after Health Canada inspectors suspended the operations of Biolyse Pharma, citing the generic drugmaker with six violations in the production of paclitaxel. According to a Montreal Gazette report last week, paclitaxel usually sells for C$42 to C$50 a vial, but some hospitals are now paying up to C$4,000 a vial. An April 29 invoice from Hospira to Maisonneuve-Rosemont shows the hospital purchased 30 vials of paclitaxel for C$118,327. The east-end hospital would normally pay C$1,285 for the same supply, the newspaper said.
Hospira stated: “Given recent misinformation, we at Hospira Canada feel it is very important to clarify and provide further context regarding the Canadian supply and pricing of paclitaxel – a life-saving cancer medication. Most importantly, through Hospira's efforts, and working closely with Health Canada, a severe oncology treatment crisis was avoided, resulting in no patient disruption of a key oncolytic therapy.”
Hospira says it is offering 75% discounts off list price
Hospira stressed: “Contrary to media reports, Hospira did not increase our price for paclitaxel. In fact, Hospira offered a 75% discount off our list price of paclitaxel to Canadian purchasing groups that previously purchased the drug from another supplier that is not currently able to supply the market. The price referenced in media coverage is the list price for paclitaxel. Because we recognize the importance of paclitaxel, we offered this deep discount well before the issue became public by directly engaging each affected purchasing group in May, along with a firm commitment to apply the discount retroactively. We're hoping to quickly finalize agreements with the key purchasing groups that supply Canadian hospitals so they can obtain the discounted price and not pay the list price.”
It is expensive and complicated to meet this large, unexpected and sudden increase in demand, the company argued, noting that it has taken further actions of ensure a smooth supply, including increasing local inventory levels and expediting delivery to Canada ahead of other markets.
“We have made corporate investments exceeding $1 billion in recent years to expand production to provide a reliable supply of medically necessary products and prevent drug shortages, as we have been able to do with paclitaxel in Canada,” it stated.