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A drug used to treat lead poisoning is causing a toxic reaction among hospitals and poison control centers after Valeant Pharmaceuticals jacked up the price more than 2,700 percent in a single year.

At issue is a decades-old, intravenous treatment for severe and life-threatening cases of lead poisoning, which occur infrequently, but generally require supplies to be on hand. Known as Calcium EDTA, Valeant acquired the drug in 2013 as part of a $2.6 billion deal to buy another company called Medicis.


After resolving manufacturing problems that caused shortages, Valeant pursued the hallmark strategy that made it infamous — taking sky-high price hikes. Before Valeant took control, the list price for a package of vials had been stable at $950. But in January 2014, Valeant boosted the price to $7,116. By December 2014, several more increases took the price to $26,927, according to Truven Health Analytics.

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  • Valeant solution , cannot be used for chronic cases as Flint, only for acute cases.
    The sensationalism created by media in issues is ridiculous
    Plus the product is expensive because demand is extremely low and life time of the item requires constant replacement, where ingredients are expensive.
    media is hurting investors for long time with stupidity and soon pharma will stop investing .

    I think the critics should understand how much cost to pay a team of scientists salaries and taxes and how much cost to gets all FDA fases approval, plus know that your creation and investment soon after released will become generic for just copy your formula.

    Less talk and less political noise, more work .
    Before Pharma run away from USA.

  • Chelation with EDTA is not an easy procedure. It causes havoc on the patient’s metabolic system and must be very closely monitored. Hospitals probably don’t want to make their own chelation solution for fear of liability.

  • Free editing, from me to you! Please change the sentence “Known as Calcium EDTA, Valeant acquired the drug in 2013 as part of a $2.6 billion deal to buy another company called Medicis” to read: “In 2013 Valeant acquired the drug, known as Calcium EDTA, as part of a” etc.

  • Valeant doesn’t really care about its income from 50 cases of acute lead poisoning a year. What they really want to go after IMO is the huge market for kids and adults with subacute and chronic lead toxicity, for which chelating agents are also used depending on blood levels. Best example is lead contamination of the Flint, Michigan water supply with thousands of people exposed, some pretty sick. Moreover elevated lead levels have been found in the water supply of over 350 municipalities. Bottom line is that when you add all of these contamination sources together Valeant stands to make a killing, so to speak on EDTA.

  • I guess Valeant doesn’t really understand their customer who uses a drug for lead poisoning? I have had discussions with Poison Centers around the price increases over the last few years and most of the patients unfortunately are children, who come from low income areas, because there is lead based paint in the homes they live in. There appears to be no ethics around pricing drugs or truly understanding the patients who are administered drugs. If anything, Valeant should be offering the drug as a lost leader, break even (COG to revenue), or a slsight profit, because most of the children would be uninsured or Medicaid. Maybe sales of the drug aren’t high because we really don’t want to have to diagnose or treat patients with lead poisoning and revenue is made on higher price vs. lower sales?

    • Want to clarify statement: Don’t want to have to diagnose or treat patients with lead poisoning, because we hope that most lead based patient has been removed from homes and parents have been educated to watch their children, etc. so they don’t eat paint. Prevention of poisoning is number one issue. Thanks

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