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Monday, September 21, 2015

US Pharmaceutical Company Defends 5,000% Price Increase

Daraprim now sells for $750 (£485) a dose despite 
costing $1 to produce
Generic image of pharmaceuticals Thinkstock
From BBC US & Canada

The head of a US pharmaceutical company has defended his company's decision to raise the price of a 62-year-old medication used by Aids patients by over 5,000%.

Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to Daraprim in August.

CEO Martin Shkreli has said that the company will use the money it makes from sales to research new treatments.

The drug is used treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic affliction that affects people with compromised immune systems.

After Turning's acquisition, a dose of Daraprim in the US increased from $13.50 (£8.70) to $750.

The pill costs about $1 to produce, but Mr Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said that does not include other costs like marketing and distribution.

"We needed to turn a profit on this drug," Mr Shkreli told Bloomberg TV. "The companies before us were just giving it away almost."

On Twitter, Mr Shkreli mocked several users who questioned the company's decision, calling one reporter "a moron".

Turing now joins Alexion, Pfizer and Flynn as soulless dispensers of death. People in countries without pharmacare programs will simply have to stop taking it. The industrialized countries with pharmacare help will find their health care budgets ballooning. Health care budgets are, of course, funded by tax-payers. What this means is that a company like Alexion with only a few thousand customers, can now collect money from every single taxpayer in the industrialized world.

In August, Britain's competition watchdog accused Pfizer and Flynn Pharma of breaching UK and European law by ramping up the cost of an epilepsy drug, given to more than 50,000 British patients, by as much as 2,600 percent.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said its provisional view was that Pfizer and Flynn Pharma each abused a dominant position by charging "excessive and unfair" prices for phenytoin sodium capsules.

Pfizer and Flynn said they were cooperating fully with the CMA and noted a final decision on any infringement of the law had not yet been made.

The CMA can fine companies up to 10 percent of annual worldwide sales if they are found to have breached competition law.

'Cost is unjustifiable'

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association and other health care providers wrote an open letter to Turning, urging the company to reconsider.

"This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system," the groups wrote.

Dr Wendy Armstrong of HIV Medicine Association also disputed the need to develop new treatments for toxoplasmosis.

"This is not an infection where we have been looking for more effective drugs," she told Infectious Disease News.

On Wall Street, biotech shares fell sharply on Monday after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pledged to take action against firms hiking prices for specialty drugs.

"Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous," Mrs Clinton said, citing Daraprim.

There is no indication in this unfortunate article about the patent on Daraprim. One would think that it having been around for 62 years there would be no patent. But how does that make sense for Turing to raise their price ridiculously if there is no patent?

I'm with Hillary, something needs to be done, pharmaceuticals should not be operating on a supply/demand basis because it is governments who have to pay. Those who do should lose their patent rights. 

Supply and demand marketing only works when its participants have some measure of conscience, and some small amount of control over their rampant greed. Big pharma appears to be completely devoid of both. Turing bought the rights to Daraprim for the express purpose of gouging every health care system in the world.