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Turing Pharmaceuticals Increases the Price of AIDS Drug

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For over 60 years Daraprim has been the standard drug for treating infections associated with AIDS. However, overnight that price has skyrocketed from an affordable $13.50 to an exorbitant $750.

Responsible for this is Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC and CEO Martin Shkreli who took to Bloomberg News in an attempt to defend the price hike of the pill—which only costs $1 to make— saying:  “I know what we’re doing is right.” These unconscionable actions have enraged medical professionals and gutted patients that are scrambling to figure out how they will pay the egregious new price. A statement in the New York Times from Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, warns that this could push hospitals into using “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”

However indefensible the actions of Turing Pharmaceuticals are, this is unfortunately not the first occurrence of such extreme drug price inflation. In fact, when Shkreli was CEO of Retrophin, the company increased the price of a drug called Thiola from only $1.50 per pill to $30 per pill. Forbes health care contributor condemned the move saying the company was “turning patients into commodities like barrels of oil.” Now, as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli’s actions have again left patients reeling in his wake.

Daraprim is used to treat parasitic infections—particularly toxoplasmosis—and infections associated with AIDS.  A letter written to Turing on behalf of the  Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association urges the company to renege on the price hike, saying:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified toxoplasmosis as one of five neglected parasitic diseases targeted for public health action because of the number of people infected, the severity of the illness and the ability for the condition to be treated,” and that, “This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system.”

The effects of these skyrocketing drug prices were published by several researchers on April 24, 2015, in Neurology. One of the researchers, Daniel Hartung discusses the findings in an interview with Vice stating that, “Drug companies are essentially given carte blanche to set prices at what they want.” This is devastating news for patients that rely on this vital medicine to survive.

 

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