From $50, to $750: Price of brain tumor, lymphoma medication has jumped 1,400 percent

MIAMI, Florida — A drug maker is being accused of price gouging.

NextSource Biotechnology is under fire after the Wall Street Journal revealed the price of its 40-year-old cancer drug Lomustine has jumped 1,400 percent since 2013.

Lomustine treats brain tumors and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s the only drug of its kind on the market — with no generic alternative — letting the drug supplier raise costs for patients unchecked by market competition.

The drug used to cost about $50 per capsule for the highest dose. Now, the same treatment costs more than $750 — and the costs can quickly add up. Dosage is based on weight, and some patients need more than one capsule, making the drug’s price point completely out of reach.

The treatment has been around for 40 years, but oncologists have a renewed interest in the drug after government-funded studies show combined with chemo, it can help patients battling brain tumors live longer.

Approving generic drugs is a top agenda item for the FDA. It’s commissioner recently tweeted: “The FDA approved a record number of generic drugs. For the 11 months from January to November, the FDA gave 771 full and 168 tentative generic approvals.”

But approving generics isn’t the only roadblock for patients. Getting drug companies interested in a treatment that helps only a small group of patients can be close to impossible.

Drug makers face high costs to enter the market against expensive drugs, and have to spend costly time winning over regulatory approval. Some companies have said it’s just not worth it.