ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
The latest company to suffer a public relations and stock price crisis based on its drug pricing strategy is Ariad Pharmaceuticals, which has been blasted by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) on Twitter and in a formal letter demanding justification for the price tag Ariad has attached to the chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) drug ponatinib (Iclusig).
The company, based in Cambridge, MA, and founded in 1991, has not yet achieved profitability, and ponatinib represents its first product to come to market. The company has accumulated .4 billion in losses, largely as a result of its heavy investment spending on research and development into oncology drug candidates. Its current CEO, Paris Panayiotopoulos, to whom Sanders addressed his letter, was appointed in 2015 and has been charged with the task of reversing the company’s fortunes, according to Bloomberg.
In his letter addressed to Panayiotopoulos, Sanders reflects on ponatinib’s troubled history. Following the drug’s initial approval in December 2012 for patients with CML who no longer responded to available therapies, the FDA requested a suspension of sales upon reports of serious adverse events. The subsequent investigation found that 1 in 4 patients treated with ponatinib developed blood clots or narrowing of blood vessels, a greater rate than was observed in Ariad’s pre-approval clinical trial data, according to Sanders.
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