Novum Pharma – Another Valeant & Mylan: Buy Cheap, Raise Prices, Blame Middlemen | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Even in an age when prescription drugs are increasingly expensive, a $9,500 tube of gel to combat scaly skin can gain notice — especially when the price spikes 128 percent overnight.


That’s what happened earlier this month when a little-known company called Novum Pharma suddenly hiked wholesale prices for all three of its dermatology products by whopping amounts.


Novum appears to be a furtive vehicle for scooping up older medicines from other companies and then boosting prices significantly. And its chief executive did the very same thing at a previous job, at Horizon Pharma.


Let’s start at the beginning: Novum bought three gels to treat skin conditions in March of 2015. Two months after it acquired them, it jacked up the prices tenfold. That’s right, tenfold. For instance, the wholesale price for Alcortin A, a gel used to treat dermatitis and eczema, went from $226 to $2,995.


There was another big price hike earlier this year. And this month, Novum boosted prices again. Alcortin A and Aloquin each now list for $9,561 per tube. And the wholesale price for its Novacort gel rose to $7,142 from $4,186 for a small tube, according to Truven Health Analytics.


A Novum spokesman sent us a statement insisting the prices were inaccurate and saying they include “thousands of dollars in extra charges” added by third-party middlemen and passed on to patients. “This practice reflects one of the many fundamental challenges inherent in the healthcare system today that add to the cost of access for patients,” the statement said.


This is the same explanation Mylan Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Heather Bresch gave for EpiPen price hikes.