House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Jaguar Health Inc. on Monday chiding the drugmaker for tripling the price of a medication that could be used with potential coronavirus treatments and demanding copies of the company’s internal communications about the increase.
The drug, Mytesi, can be used to alleviate gastrointestinal side effects that can often accompany the use of antiviral medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that identified the drug as a possible treatment for side effects from antiviral prescriptions that could be used to treat COVID-19, according to Maloney’s letter, which was also signed by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.
The San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company asked the Food and Drug Administration in March to grant it an emergency use authorization to market its drug to treat gastrointestinal symptoms related to coronavirus treatment. The request was denied on April 7.
Days later, the medicine’s list price tripled to more than $2,200 a bottle from $688, according to the lawmakers.
“The timing of Jaguar’s price increase raises questions about whether this decision was connected with the company’s expectation that it eventually could market Mytesi to treat coronavirus patients,” the members wrote in the May 4 letter that urged the drug manufacturer to “reverse this drastic price increase.”
The drugmaker is reportedly in talks with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases about approving Mytesi to treat coronavirus-related ailments, the letter said. Maloney wrote to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America on April 2 warning its members against “profiteering” off the public health emergency.
Jaguar was asked to provide the committee with copies of all of the company’s internal communications regarding the Mytesi price increase by May 18.