When Turing CEO Martin Shkreli upped the price of Daraprim to $750, he was popular target of patients, doctors, and drugmakers, bashing him for the nonsensical raise.
A few weeks later, maybe from all the media attention, he promised to drop the price of the parasitic infection treatment so needy patients could again afford the vital drug.
In what seems to be a classic Shkreli move, he’s reneging the company’s pledge to cut the $750-per-pill price.
Alternatively, the small biotech company is reducing what it charges hospitals, by up to 50 percent. And while patients’ payments per month will capped at around $10, insurers will be stuck with the bulk of the $750 tab. In turn, that’ll drive up future treatment and insurance costs anyway. Plus, hospitals typically treat patients for a short time, then are sent home to take the same treatment for a few months – so lowering the hospital cost has little effect.
Daraprim is a staple against toxoplasmosis, which mainly threatens people with weak immune systems, such as HIV and organ transplant patients. While it’s the go-to drug of choice, Turing’s announcement to ‘drop prices’ coincided with Imprimis Pharmaceuticals releasing a custom-made version for 99 cents per capsule recently.
“This medication can be made for pennies. They need to reduce the price to what it was before,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the HIV Medicine Association.
Shkreli might need to go back on his renege, because patients aren’t very loyal to the 62-year-old drug his company has taken hostage. Imprimis Executive Officer Mark Baum said Wednesday in an exclusive interview that orders are pouring in for its version of Daraprim from doctors.
Dr. Warren Dinges of the Seattle Infectious Diseases Clinic shared an anecdote on one of his patients he’s treating for toxoplasmosis in his eye. The patient tried to fill a prescription Dinges wrote for Daraprim, but was told by his pharmacy that it wasn’t in stock, and would cost about $27,000 for a month’s supply.
Dignes turned to Imprimis, and got a custom version for barely $100 per month.
Imprimis isn’t just focusing on their new Daraprim, but are selling capsules of another drug whose price was jacked up. This is just the start, as they’re also considering doing the same with dozens of now high-priced generic drugs for pain, heart disease, infections, skin and hormonal conditions, and immune disorders.