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As doctors received more money from the company that sells an expensive drug known as Acthar Gel, the number of prescriptions written climbed and Medicare spending rose substantially, suggesting the payments swayed medical practice and cost taxpayers a bundle, according to a new analysis.

Specifically, for every $10,000 that Mallinckrodt (MNK) paid physicians in 2015, Medicare spending rose by 7.9 percent, or $53,000, for the drug, which is used to treat infantile spasms but often prescribed for more than a dozen other maladies as well. All totaled, Medicare spent more than $500 million on the drug that year. The analysis, which appeared in the JAMA Network Open, examined payments to three types of specialists: nephrologists, neurologists, and rheumatologists.


Of the 235 specialists who frequently prescribed Acthar Gel, the median payment that year was $189, but payments were as high as $56,500 for nephrologists, $120,300 for neurologists, and $138,300 for rheumatologists. More than 20 percent of frequent prescribers received more than $10,000, and the median payment to the top 25 percent was more than $33,000.

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  • The company way not ‘have it backwards’ – “They rationalize the high price, because they’re using all that revenue to do the research to fill in the evidence gaps.” But, allowing for inflation the 1990 price should be about $41 USD. Now the remaining 99.998 % of the increase is “because they can.”

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