American Regent boosted price of essential hospital product by 1,300%

American Regent recently hiked the price of an essential mineral used by hospitals to provide nutrients intravenously by 1,300 percent, according to STAT.

Last month, the drugmaker began selling Selenious Acid Injection, a revamped product used to feed patients who can't ingest food. It is an updated version of its older product called Selenium. 

American Regent won FDA approval for Selenious Acid last April. Shortly after the FDA approval, the company discontinued the older product and began charging more money for the newer one. 

In particular, the older Selenium costs 4.4 cents for a microgram, compared to 57 cents for a microgram of Selenious Acid.

Cleveland Clinic is one hospital that spoke with STAT about the price hike. Scott Knoer, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said the price hike will harm its budget and lead to additional spending because there are no alternatives to the American Regent product.

"It’s not even a drug, it's a trace element that is mined and has literally been around as long as dirt. It's not like they spent a lot of R&D money to invent it," Dr. Knoer told STAT. "This will increase our costs … without any offsetting reimbursement increases."

In estimating the costs of the updated, more expensive drug, Dr. Knoer said that Cleveland Clinic's home care business spent $63,000 on Selenium last year, but expects to spend about $816,000 in 2020 for Selenious Acid. In addition, the hospitals in Cleveland Clinic's network spent about $80,000 on the older product last year, but expect to spend nearly $1 million to buy the new product in 2020.

A spokesperson from American Regent argued the new product is actually only double the cost of the older drug when you take the wholesale cost of the product into consideration, according to STAT.

Read the full report here

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