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Purdue's Chao Center regains drug, slashes $360-per-pill price

September 22, 2015

An Indiana not-for-profit has dropped the price of a drug for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis roughly 90 percent after re-acquiring rights to the medicine from Rodelis Therapeutics, the latest sign of a growing outcry over skyrocketing costs for rare-disease treatments.

The price for the drug, called cycloserine, briefly soared to $360 per capsule, or $10,800 for package of 30 capsules, after Alpharetta, Georgia-based Rodelis Therapeutics acquired the drug in August, according to Dan Hasler, president of the Purdue Research Foundation.

Rodelis obtained rights to the treatment from the Chao Center for Industrial Pharmacy & Contract Manufacturing, part of the Indiana-based Purdue Research Foundation in West Lafayette.

The Chao Center had previously sold the treatment for about $20 a capsule, according to Hasler. The not-for-profit had manufactured the old Eli Lilly and Co. antibiotic since 2007, and had lost money on it since so few people use it, Hasler said. Fewer than 100 U.S. patients with resistant tuberculosis use the drug each year, he said.

High prices for many drugs are coming under scrutiny in the U.S. Biotech stock prices fell on Monday after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that she would soon release a plan to combat the high cost of specialty medicines.

Earlier this year, Hasler said the Chao Center was approached by Rodelis Therapeutics, which wanted to acquire rights to the drug. Hasler said he understood that Rodelis would supply additional patient and physician services to help make sure that TB patients took their complex regimens properly.

After the Chao Center licensed the drug to Rodelis, the price went up more than expected and the other services did not come together in the way the Chao Center had expected, Hasler said. "What they were doing was not what we thought was in the best interests of our patients," he said.

Hasler said the Chao Center started trying to get rights to the drug back on Thursday and reached an agreement with Rodelis late on Saturday. The new price is now $35 a capsule, enough so that the Chao Center can cover more of its costs, he said.

No patient will have to pay the Rodelis price, he said."We have reversed all the sales in the last three weeks to the new lower price," he said.

Rodelis, in a statement on its website, said it acquired cycloserine from the Chao Center on Aug. 19, with a commitment to continue investing to ensure that the product was available long-term. Rodelis was putting in place a patient assistance program in which uninsured patients would apply to receive the drug at no cost, it said. The company also planned to invest resources to help patients stay on the medication, it said.

Rodelis and the Chao Center mutually agreed last week that it was in "the best interest of the patients" to return the drug rights to the not-for-profit, according to the statement. A privately held company, Rodelis develops and commercializes treatments for rare diseases.

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