Experts in the field of infectious disease are now faced with a critical issue, one that has seldom surfaced in previous years. A sixty-two-year-old drug that has traditionally treated a dangerous parasite has now increased from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. This drug, known as Daraprim, was acquired by a new company known as Turing Pharmaceuticals.
The Turing Company is responsible for this radical price increase. This increase may force health care professionals to use inferior methods of treatment along with other alternative therapies. Of course, this is not a rare incidence, but rather, an insidious trend that has emerged in the pharmaceutical industry in the past. These incidents have surfaced for two reasons in particular. In some cases, a drug shortage was responsible for this phenomenon. In other cases, poor business strategies became the primary culprit.
These radical drug price increases have invited suspicion and concern among the federal government members. In particular, two members of Congress investigated these price hikes in August, after Valeant Pharmaceuticals raised the price for two heart medications by 525% and 212% respectively.
Effects on Health Care
Other organizations have expressed their impassioned grievances against Turing for raising the prices on both HIV medications and infectious disease medications. Essentially, they accused him of exploiting a vulnerable population of people susceptible to disease. In essence, these price hikes are a scourge to the medical community and may compromise the quality of standards of care.
The purpose of Daraprim is to treat a condition known as toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that threatens the well-being and life of newborn babies. It is also used to combat parasitic infections for those who suffer from AIDS or HIV-related infections.
What the Founder Has to Say
The founder and chief executive of this company, Martin Shkreli, minimized the impact this would have on the medically vulnerable population, noting that this drug was rarely used in the first place. Furthermore, he declared that he would allocate the profits from this medicine to furthering medical research on this very topic. This individual has been at the forefront of many well-known controversies, and he continues to face an onslaught of criticism.
According to Shkreli, his company is not motivated by avarice and greed, but rather, a pressing need to stay in business, even at the expense of the patients and their well-being. In spite of his brash efforts, he continues to justify his claim, noting the short-lived treatment periods required for this condition. He stated that the use of this drug rarely exceeds a year in some cases, but these treatments can prove alarmingly expensive at a rate of $750 per pill. He insists that the criticism being leveled against him is unwarranted.
Mr. Shkreli has invited other notable examples of criticism, one of which led to the untimely termination from his company, Retrophin. He started this company to purchase older drugs and raised their prices accordingly. According to CEO of Incerio, his board of directors fired him and accused him of pursuing these endeavors for monetary purposes. He is attempting to sue this company, and he denies what he deems to be wild allegations, behaving as though he were unjustly punished.
The Importance of Daraprim
Daraprim is especially important in the medical world, because it treats malaria, and it only cost a mere $1 per tablet many years ago. Once it was acquired by CorePharma, its price dramatically increased tremendously. Hence, this drug seems to have incurred a trend of price increases over the years, but none as dramatic as this. This price increase will ultimately provide Turing with tens of millions of dollars, and private insurance companies will be forced to cover it, while Medicaid will acquire it at cheaper prices.
In essence, some hospitals may experience treatment delays, because the drug is now too expensive to administer to patients. Daraprim is the standard treatment for this parasitic condition, and this issue clearly has vaster implications than Shkreli claims.