A medication called Daraprim recently made headlines about its pricing. LBN’s Emily Collins reports that the most recent headline was that the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, owner of the drug, announced that he would reduce the price of the drug following widespread backlash over an earlier price increase. The new price has not been announced.
Martin Shkreli, the Turing CEO, started the firestorm by announcing an overnight increase in the cost of the medicine from $13.50 per pill to $750.00, a 5,000% price hike. There was great concern about the financial effect this would have on those using the medication. Daraprim is used to treat a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. According to the CDC, toxoplasmosis infects about 22.5% of the U.S population age twelve and older, but without complications. However, the parasite can be devastating in patients with compromised immune systems, like HIV and cancer patients.
Shkreli defended the sharp price increase on the basis that “We need to turn a profit on the drug.” His position was that the drug had been underpriced. The profits on the increased price of the drug, Shkreli promised, would be used to fund research into drugs to treat toxoplasmosis.
Shkreli’s decision to raise the price of Daraprim was denounced as price gouging, but it was not illegal. And Turing is not the first pharmaceutical to set a high price on a drug that is critical to certain patient populations. Complaints about the high prices of cancer drugs have been going on for a long time. The Turing price increase caught the eye of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Both said they would fight such price increases.
Shkreli has some controversy in his past. The BBC suggests he may be “the most hated man in America.” The Washington Post reports that “Turing has a history of business practices and antics that have made Shkreli the subject of regulatory inquiries from the very start of his career. He's a former hedge fund manager who moved a few years ago from the world of buying and selling biotechnology stocks to the industry that creates them.”
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