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How Ariad (ARIA)'s Price Hikes Resulted in a $5 Billion Payday for Investors

1/10/2017 7:04:32 AM

How Ariad's Price Hikes Resulted in a $5 Billion Payday for Investors January 10, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Despite a public campaign decrying Ariad Pharmaceuticals for systematically increasing the price of its leukemia drug, Iclusig company shares skyrocketed Monday following Takeda Pharmaceutical (TKPYY)’s $5.2 billion acquisition.

On Monday, Takeda announced it would acquire all outstanding shares at $24 per share. The stock closed on Friday at $13.83. This morning shares are trading at $23.74. That massive boost in share price was a welcome reprieve for many long-term Ariad investors who watched the rise and fall of company stock in the wake of the pricing controversies. With a big payout for investors, Forbes writer Matthew Herper said that companies that are willing to “weather the political storm” will benefit financially from price hikes despite public outcry. Despite all the public demonization, Herper said the increase in price of prescription drugs will not slow down “if they serve companies' bottom lines.”

The issues for Ariad began in the fall when U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders called out the company on its price increases. Since it launched in 2012, the price for Iclusig has risen 73 percent. Iclusig is a BCR-ABL kinase inhibitor aimed at the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia Sanders said the price increase, which went from a monthly price of $9,580 in 2012 to $16,560 per month–a total price of $198,720 per patient annually. Sanders said Ariad’s price increases amounted to nothing more than greed.
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The drug is used in an ultra-orphan patient population of around 1,000 to 2,000 patients per year. Ariad is seeking to expand the use of Iclusig. Iclusig is involved in several clinical trials, including the OPTIC-2L trial, a Phase III study in patients with chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CP-CML) who did not respond to imatinib.

Sanders and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, sent a letter to Ariad demanding company justification for the price increases. Ariad raised the prices of Iclusig despite an issue that caused the drug to be pulled from shelves in 2013. The company halted marketing of the drug after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned about dangerous side effects. The FDA allowed the drug back on the market by the end of the year, but at that time it included new cardiovascular warnings and its use was restricted to a smaller class of patients as a second-line treatment.

Ariad is not the only company to come under fire in recent months for price increases. Mylan NV (MYL) has been excoriated for the price of its EpiPen Auto-Injector and Quebec-based Valeant (VRX) has been before Congress for the prices of some of the drugs it acquired from other companies. Of course at the center of its all is “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who became the poster boy of price increases after his former company jacked the price of toxoplasmosis treatment Daraprim by 5,000 percent after it acquired the drug for $55 million.


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