A Senate committee this week put the spotlight on the wave of increases in the cost of medications. While those truly innovative medicines that save lives and ease suffering are certainly valued by all, the committee’s hearing focused on some of the more troubling of the pharmaceutical industry’s tactics in suddenly jacking up the prices of off-patent drugs. Tactics like Canadian-based Valeant’s purchase earlier this year of the rights to a pair of life-saving heart medications, isoproterenol and nitroprusside. A day following the acquisition, nitroprusside’s price rose from $215 to about $650, and isoproterenol went from $440 to about $2,700. It’s a disturbing example of how pharmaceutical companies are buying drugs they say are undervalued, then jacking up the prices. It is one of several practices, along with companies hiking prices on older drugs and launching newer treatments at previously unheard of prices, driving up the cost of prescription drugs overall. It’s straining hospital budgets and squeezing patients. The AHA supports the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing and will continue to push back on the issue of escalating drug costs.

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