Pharma Exec Calls a 400 Percent Price Hike ‘Moral.’ Is it?

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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Is quadrupling the price of a medication “moral”? One pharmaceutical CEO not only thinks so, but he also says it’s a “moral requirement.”

The medication is liquid nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic mixture that’s primarily used to treat bladder and urinary tract infections. Since UTIs can be a problem for people with MS, an increase in the price of nitrofurantoin, which is sold as Macrobid and Furadantin, may be of interest to us — especially since the price increase is a whopping 400 percent!

According to Elsevier’s Gold Standard drug database, the cost of the liquid version of nitrofurantoin jumped from $474.75 to $2,392 a few weeks ago. And here’s the thing that floored me: A Financial Times article quotes Nostrum Laboratories CEO Nirmal Mulye as saying he had a “moral requirement” to do that.

Here’s the full quote:

 “I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can … to sell the product for the highest price.” 

Wow! This isn’t a new wonder drug that we’re talking about that cost millions of dollars to develop. Nitrofurantoin has been around for 65 years. It’s on the list of the World Health Organization’s “Essential Medicines.” The WHO defines these as the “minimum medicine needs for a basic health-care system … the most efficacious, safe and cost–effective medicines for priority conditions.” Nitrofurantoin is in a group of antibiotics that, according to the WHO, “should be widely available, affordable and quality assured.”

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Supply and demand

Nitrofurantoin is currently in short supply. Mulye blames the shortage, and his price hike, on the Food and Drug Administration. He tells the Financial Times that he and other makers of this medication had to reformulate the medication because of new FDA requirements. Because of this, he and others have raised its price. As of about a week ago, Nostrum wasn’t shipping the med. Neither was at least one other pharmaceutical company. Mulye, apparently referring to supply and demand, told the FT that the price could change again “according to market conditions.”

A moral requirement?

Mulye told the newspaper that his moral requirement is to “make money when you can.”

I’d prefer that his moral requirement, and that of other pharmaceutical companies who produce this medication, be to produce an antibiotic that is, to use the WHO’s phrase, “widely available, affordable and quality assured.” Obviously, that’s not currently the case for nitrofurantoin.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Janice Haynes avatar

Janice Haynes

Let God be with us all. Money doesn't mean happiness to us all. Sometimes hope and satisfaction is more than money. You know money does help a lot and a lot of us do have money. It would be nice. But to let one person suffer in order to making money is not right. I know that nothing is free but let us be able to afford it. God be with us all.

Robert Picone avatar

Robert Picone

To say that it is a 'moral obligation' to maximize profit is,in my mind, incorrect. It may well be a fiduciary responsibility but the morality enters the picture when pricing takes place merely for the cause of making money without regard for the health and safety of people in need of said medicine. Frankly, in my mind, it is morally reprehensible for any pharmaceutical company to raise prices of necessary and needed medicines for the sole need to maximize profit.

Kara avatar


The "moral" thing to do is to help cure disease and illnesses. It's to work to help the greater good, to have good ethics. I realize there are costs and profit margins. Taking old, historically effective medication and tripling or quadrupling the existing costs isn't the "moral" thing to do. It's pure, unequivocal greed. Unfortunately, the FDA is steered by the pharmaceutical industry. I am not sure how they sleep at night.

Paul Cannova avatar

Paul Cannova

Moral my backside, this is pure greed, the day will come when he will be judged and someone will decide on his so called Morals

katherine avatar


OMG!! maybe he meant to say GREED - This comment is disgusting ... we are all in for it now ....Everyday I begin with counting my blessings .. These people have lost their way..counting their $$$

Mark Salsgiver avatar

Mark Salsgiver

There really needs to be a hot spot in hell for big pharm reps.

truth avatar


" the love of money is the root of all evil"....

R avatar


Why does this CEO get to remain nameless?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

He doesn't.

I identify him in the third paragraph of my column.


T Cooper avatar

T Cooper

That is disgusting but in our current political climate I find it to be the norm that says a lot about where we are all headed. Too bad our politicians have traded decency for $$$ and support this outrageous thinking. We need to reign in all these self serving pharmaceutical elites and show them that is uncalled for. I used to be on the capsule form of this med and I swear to never take it again.

Peggy avatar


OH REALLY?!?? Does
Person know meaning of the word MORAL? LOOK IT UP IDIOT

That said what can be done? Think I'll contact my Congressman/Senator

KP avatar


I found this when I was researching the listed medicine. I have been on the 100mg generic capsule for about 8 months now and have seen an increase this year of around $20 for 30 pills. 30 pills cost me 42.00 this week.



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