The new owner of Daraprim, a drug used to treat the life-threatening parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, has raised its price from $13.50 to $750 — an increase of 5,000 percent— prompting an outcry from the medical and political establishments.
According to The New York Times
, Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager, purchased Daraprim in August, and soon after raising the price received a joint letter from the The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association.
The letter, sent earlier this month, said the increase was "unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population" and "unsustainable for the health care system."
On Monday, presidential contender Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to protest the price increase as well.
"Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on," she wrote
Martin Shkreli, the founder and chief executive of Turing, said the drug's pricing brings it in line with other rarely-used pharmaceuticals, and that money raised from the new price increase would be used to develop an even better drug with fewer side effects.
"This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business," said Shkreli. "This is still one of the smallest pharmaceutical products in the world. It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this."
Last year, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial about the potential dangers of rising prices in the market for more rare drugs, CBS News reported
"Manufacturers of generic drugs that legally obtain a market monopoly are free to unilaterally raise the prices of their products," it wrote. "There is little that individual consumers can do. Some drug companies...offer assistance programs for indigent patients, but these programs often have complicated enrollment processes, and they do not offer an effective general safety net."
After observing the dramatic price increases in the specialized drug market, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings introduced the "Medicaid Generic Drug Price Fairness Act" in July, which seeks to address possible price gouging.
Last month, the politicians wrote a letter of inquiry to Valeant Pharmaceuticals after it acquired the heart drugs Isuprel and Nitropress and raised their prices by 525 percent and 212 percent, respectively.
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