Martin Shkreli, founder and CEO Turing, a pharmaceutical company, was under fire last week for increasing the price of the drug Daraprim overnight by more than 5,000 percent when he purchased the company in August.
Shkreli raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per tablet.
Although Shkreli raied the price in August, the issue is gaining attention due to Hillary Clinton’s comments on it on her social media accounts.
Daraprim is a 62-year-old drug that fights toxoplasmosis, a particularly threatening infection, for people who have weak immune systems, such as AIDS patients and some pregnant women.
Several years ago, Daraprim cost only about $1 a tablet, but the drug’s price rose sharply after CorePharma, a manufacturer and marketer of high-quality prescriptions, acquired it.
Shkreli said since the drug is so rarely used, he believes that the impact on the health system would be minuscule.
In addition, he stated the money from the increase would be used to develop better treatments for AIDS that have fewer side effects.
“This is not the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients; it is us trying to stay in business,” Mr. Shkreli told The New York Times.
“We needed to turn a profit on the drug,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg last week. “The companies before us were actually just giving it away almost.”
Although some price increases have been caused by shortages, others have resulted from a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced specialty drugs, or trying to gain more funds to research other drug improvements.
Shkreli acknowledged that the cost to produce the drug is low, but he said that doesn’t take into account “the quality control, the regulatory costs and all of the other things that come with having a drug company.”
This spontaneous hike in the price of the much-needed medication has sparked enormous outrages.
It caused several lawmakers and even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to consider possible measures of controlling the rising cost of medicines.
“Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be? Do the right thing. Lower the cost today to its original price,” Clinton wrote during a Facebook live chat on Monday, Sept. 27, Newsweek reported.
The price increase targeted hospitals and patients. Medicaid and certain hospitals would be able to get the drug inexpensively under the federal rules for discounts and rebates.
Unfortunately, private insurers, Medicare and hospitalized patients would have to pay an amount relatively close to the listed price.
This price increase could eventually force hospitals to use alternative therapies that may not have the same efficiency.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association objected to the price increase, saying, “This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication.”
Also, with the new price, the annual cost for treatment is hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Shkreli said many patients use the drug Daraprim for far less than a year, and the price is now more in line with those of other medications for rare diseases.
This has caused significant speculation. Although Daraprim now comes at a similar cost to other medicines like it, some feel as though the price increase was unnecessary.
It comes down to the idea that with the price change, patients will not be able to afford the proper treatment they deserve and could eventually die.
After suddenly increasing the price of the life-saving medication, Daraprim, Shkreli indicated he will lower the cost of the drug.
Shkreli does not know what the new price will be, but he will decrease it to allow his pharmaceutical company to break even or make a smaller profit.
With the possibility of such a brief escalation in the price of a vital drug, it is in question if it was really worth the scares or Turing pharmaceutical company’s time.
Without this drug, patients may become very seriously ill and die. This very worrisome to those who cannot afford Daraprim anymore.
This startling fact has drawn much publicity to this issue, and calls the ethics of Shkreli’s business decision into question.
Editor’s Note: Information from NBC News, Newsweek Bloomberg and The New York Times was used in this report.