Hillary Clinton slams Valeant drug price hikes in new TV ad

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton is calling out Valeant Pharmaceuticals by name for what she calls predatory pricing in a new campaign TV ad.

In the ad, Clinton recounts the story of a woman who started taking a brand-name drug in the 1980s, when it cost $180 for 10 shots. For the woman’s most recent refill, Clinton says the drug now costs $14,000 for those 10 shots.

“The company is called Valeant. I’m going after them,” Clinton says. “This is predatory pricing, and we’re going to make sure it is stopped.”

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The 30-second ad is airing in the Michigan and Kansas City television markets, according to the Clinton campaign. They declined to disclose the dollar amount of the ad buy.

It is a story that Clinton is fond of recounting as she takes drug companies to task regularly in her speeches. Attendees heard the anecdote at multiple campaign stops while Clinton was stumping through Iowa in late January.

Clinton doesn’t name the drug in the ad, but the Financial Times reported last month that the drug she has been targeting in her speeches is a migraine medication called dihydroergotamine, or DHE 45. Valeant had increased the price of the drug from $3,090 for 10 vials to $14,120 with a series of price increases between July 2014 and July 2015, according to the Times.

In response to Clinton’s ad, Valeant referred STAT to a statement it issued in January, noting that a generic version of the drug has been available since 2003 and that Valeant’s share of the market for the drug is less than 1 percent.

Valeant is currently the subject of multiple federal investigations and has been under increasing scrutiny since late last year when the company’s relationship with specialty pharmacies was called into question. The major drug industry group in Washington, D.C., has taken the unusual step of disavowing the company.

Clinton has made drug prices a pillar of her presidential campaign. Back in September, her campaign released an ad ripping Turing Pharmaceuticals and its former CEO Martin Shkreli for alleged price-gouging while highlighting her drug-price plan.

Another ad in December emphasized her proposed cap on out-of-pocket costs for drugs and her plan to clear the Food and Drug Administration’s generic-drug backlog to combat skyrocketing prices.

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