Valeant's notorious Nitropress price hike gets a brand-new nemesis: A cheap generic

Valeant
The FDA has approved a generic version of Valeant's Nitropress.

Here’s a solution for the hospitals that say they’re still waiting on the discounts Valeant promised for price-jacked heart med Nitropress: The FDA has approved a generic.

The agency green-lighted the knockoff Friday, according to its website—and the news came ahead of some analysts’ expectations.

“We had modeled this as a mid-2017 event,” Wells Fargo’s David Maris wrote to clients Monday.

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While it’s more bad news for embattled Valeant—Nitropress is the Canadian drugmaker’s seventh-largest product—healthcare systems and Congress will likely cheer the news. Lawmakers have been grilling Valeant on its price hikes since last summer, when the company picked up Nitropress and fellow heart med Isuprel from Marathon Pharmaceuticals and raised the drugs’ prices by 236.6% and 536.7%, respectively. And ever since Valeant execs vowed before Congress to offer discounts to hospitals of up to 30% on the products, those hospitals still awaiting their promised price breaks have been speaking out, too.

The approval is also just another warning to drugmakers that price increases won’t necessarily be a viable strategy going forward—in case they needed more reasons to beware. They’ve already seen peers—such as Valeant, Turing and EpiPen-maker Mylan—dragged through the mud over their own moves, and nobody wants to be the next to end up in the spotlight.

But in addition to the reputation issues, competition is another reason those hikes won’t necessarily work going forward, as Turing can attest. Last October, compounding pharmacy Imprimis stepped up with a $1-per-pill version of the drug whose price then-Turing CEO Martin Shkreli sent soaring.

EpiPen, toowhich has long enjoyed dominance in the severe allergy market, with very little competition—may soon be under siege by rivals. Imprimis says it’s working on another solution, and former EpiPen nemesis Auvi-Q—pulled from the market  after manufacturing issues spurred a hefty recall—could soon be back on the scene. Impax Labs—maker of its own approved epinephrine auto-injector, Adrenaclick—is working on significantly expanding its manufacturing capacity, too. 

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