By Jeff Simpson
Daraprim, known generically as pyrimethamine, is used mainly to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection that can cause serious or even life-threatening problems for babies born to women who become infected during pregnancy, and also for people with compromised immune systems, like AIDS patients and certain cancer patients.
Great drug for children and other people who desperately need it, unfortunately many will no longer be able to take it. See the prices raised from $1 a pll a few years ago to $750 now and the only thing that has changed is ownership in the drug company.
The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Martin Shkreli is the hedge fund manager who also owns Turning Pharmaceuticals and is taking away time from shorting drug company stocks, to price this important drug out of the hands of most people in the US.
This is not the first time the 32-year-old Mr. Shkreli, who has a reputation for both brilliance and brashness, has been the center of controversy. He started MSMB Capital, a hedge fund company, in his 20s and drew attention for urging the Food and Drug Administration not to approve certain drugs made by companies whose stock he was shorting.In 2011, Mr. Shkreli started Retrophin, which also acquired old neglected drugs and sharply raised their prices.
Retrophin’s board fired Mr. Shkreli a year ago. Last month, it filed a complaint in Federal District Court in Manhattan, accusing him of using Retrophin as a personal piggy bank to pay back angry investors in his hedge fund.Mr. Shkreli has denied the accusations. He has filed for arbitration against his old company, which he says owes him at least $25 million in severance. “They are sort of concocting this wild and crazy and unlikely story to swindle me out of the money,” he said.
If you think that profits for Mr. Shkreli are more important than a child's life, then be happy your dreams are coming true. This is NOT the only time this has happened.
Cycloserine, a drug used to treat dangerous multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, was just increased in price to $10,800 for 30 pills from $500 after its acquisition by Rodelis Therapeutics. Scott Spencer, general manager of Rodelis, said the company needed to invest to make sure the supply of the drug remained reliable. He said the company provided the drug free to certain needy patients.
In August, two members of Congress investigating generic drug price increases wrote to Valeant Pharmaceuticals after that company acquired two heart drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress, from Marathon Pharmaceuticals and promptly raised their prices by 525 percent and 212 percent respectively. Marathon had acquired the drugs from another company in 2013 and had quintupled their prices, according to the lawmakers, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland. Doxycycline, an antibiotic, went from $20 a bottle in October 2013 to $1,849 by April 2014, according to the two lawmakers.
If you find this abhorrent and immoral, call your local elected rep and support Bernie Sanders for President.