CHICAGO — Stung by criticism that it jacked up the price of lifesaving medicines, Valeant Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday it will lower some prices through an agreement with Chicago-based Walgreens, the nation's largest pharmacy retailer.
Valeant said its "fulfillment agreement" will cut prices 10 percent on all skin and eye medicines, and more than 50 percent on some other branded drugs that have generics available. The lower prices will be phased in over the next six to nine months, said Valeant, based in Laval, Quebec.
In recent months, Valeant caused a furor by sharply increasing prices for heart drugs shortly after buying them from Marathon Pharmaceuticals, a small drug developer from suburban Chicago. Valeant raised the price of Nitropress more than 200 percent and the price of Isuprel more than 500 percent.
Those kinds of sharp increases by Valeant and other drugmakers have come under intense national scrutiny. Last week, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on drug prices. The House Oversight Committee is expected to hold hearings early next year. That attention is pressuring the pharmaceutical industry to defend its prices or to denounce drugmakers that have pushed through extraordinarily high price increases.
Valeant said its 20-year agreement would allow customers to buy certain products at lower out-of-pocket costs from more than 8,000 Walgreens stores, as well as an unspecified number of participating independent retailers. The arrangement will take affect early next year and will initially cover Valeant's dermatology products, including Jublia, Luzu and Solodyn, and eye products including Besivance and Lotemax.