Pfizer Tax Shelter Move and Price Increases Led by Valeant Compound Image of Drug Industry Greed

Friday, November 27, 2015
Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson

Two prominent drug companies are demonstrating they’ll do almost anything to maximize profits.


Valeant Pharmaceuticals is boosting the prices of older drugs, this time remedies for cancer patients with skin conditions.


Targretin gel, a topical treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, now costs about $30,320. Six years ago, before Valeant bought it, the treatment was priced at $1,687.

Most of the increase “occurred after Valeant acquired the drug early in 2013,” according to The New York Times. Patients can require two tubes of Targretin a month for several months. Another treatment that Valeant acquired, Carac cream, which is used to treat precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses, has soared in price from $159 a tube to $2,865.


“We’re not talking about new drugs,” said Dr. Steven P. Rosenberg, a dermatologist in West Palm Beach, Florida, who led the research. “We’re not talking about exotic drugs. We’re not talking about drugs that are listed as being in shortage.”


Rosenberg, who has researched price increases in drugs owned by several companies, said the soaring costs “have been off the charts. None of this makes any sense other than that they can get away with it.”


Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is planning to boost profits another way, by buying competitor Allergan and relocate its headquarters to Ireland so it can avoid paying income taxes to the U.S. government.


Lobbyists hired by drug makers have been shaking their heads about Pfizer’s bold move. “This Pfizer thing is humongous, and I think it could change the course of history for the entire industry,” one of the industry’s top lobbyists told the Times. “Pfizer shot us all in the collective foot.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

2 Valeant Dermatology Drugs Lead Steep Price Increases, Study Finds (by Andrew Pollack, New York Times)

Pfizer’s Plan to Leave U.S. Unsettles Drug Lobbyists (by Gardiner Harris, New York Times)

Changes in Retail Prices of Prescription Dermatologic Drugs from 2009 to 2015 (by Miranda E. Rosenberg, BA; Steven P. Rosenberg, MD, Journal of the American Medical Association)

U.S. Corporations Moving Overseas to Avoid Taxes May Find Ways to Skirt New Fed Rules to Stop Them (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Valeant Leads Big Pharma Trend of Skyrocketing Drug Prices (by Steve Straehley and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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