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Pharma company cashed in on Flint water crisis, raised lead poisoning drug prices 2,700 percent

Lead poisoning

(NaturalNews) During the Flint city water crisis, as children's brains were being poisoned by lead coming from their tap water, one pharmaceutical company was caught cashing in, in the greediest way. Valeant Pharmaceuticals hiked the price of an important medicine that treats severe lead poisoning. They hiked the price by a stunning 2,700 percent between 2013 and 2015, severely restricting the medicine's availability at a time when children in Flint, Michigan needed it the most.

For over two years, residents of Flint, Michigan were poisoned by extreme levels of lead in their tap water. When Flint city officials switched the source of the city's drinking water from Lake Huron to Flint River, proper water treatment protocols were not followed. As residents complained about the water, city officials continued to claim the water was safe to drink. When the issue was finally brought to light by heavy metal testing, residents found out they were drinking what the EPA considers hazardous waste. When Virginia Tech University tested 300 water samples from Flint, Michigan, lead levels were consistently greater than the EPA's limit of 15ppb. One sample was as high as 13,200ppb!

2,700 percent price hike for medicine that treats severe lead poisoning

The lead poisoning problems in Flint, Michigan have shed light on the toxicity of water supplies across the Nation. Corrosive pipes silently poison the population, delivering lead to people's taps, ultimately destroying the brains of the next generation.

Instead of making solutions widely available, pharmaceutical companies seek to cash in on the crisis. During the Flint water crisis, Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired a medicine that has been used to treat lead poisoning for decades. Instead of making this medicine available to the victims of Flint, Michigan, Valeant Pharmaceuticals raised the price of the medicine by 2,700 percent. The medicine is an intravenous treatment called Calcium EDTA. It is used for life threatening cases of lead poisoning. Its price has remained stable for decades, but as the crisis in Flint raged on, Valeant acquired the drug and jacked up the price from $950 a vial to $26,927!

Dr. Michael Kosnett, an associate clinical professor in the division of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Colorado's School of Medicine says, "This is a drug that has long been a standard of care, and until recently it was widely accessible at an affordable price There's no justification for the astronomical price increases by Valeant, which limit availability of the drug to children with life-threatening lead poisoning."

When questioned, Valeant Pharmaceuticals backed up their inordinate price hikes. A company spokesman said that Valeant can only make this medicine consistently available through higher prices because they only make 200 to 300 vials per year. In 2015, Valeant hiked the price of several long standing drugs by 66 percent on average. Their price hikes are five times greater than other pharmaceutical companies.

Patent monopolies restrict competition that could bring down the price of life saving drugs

Like all other pharmaceutical companies, Valeant is able to jack up prices because they know insurance companies and government programs will shield patients from the rising costs. However, health insurance premiums continue to go up to cover the ever increasing cost of this rigged, greed-based system that doesn't allow for competition. Generic forms of drugs are not allowed to compete in the US healthcare market for many years, until the patent on the original drug expires.

This competition is essential and desperately needed for driving down costs of medicines such as Calcium EDTA. The drug companies enjoy their patent monopolies which prevent competitors from offering more affordable choices. Doctors and hospitals can take their case to their respective states, but it's the government that has rigged the system from the top down.




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