Price increases on previously affordable medications is a familiar, though unwelcome, practice from the pharmaceutical industry. Recently though, aggressive price hikes have sparked outrage, even attracting the attention of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
- Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, has made headlines this week with a huge price hike on Daraprim.
- Daraprim went from $13.50 to $750 per pill. After Turing acquired Daraprim from another pharmaceutical company last month, the price jumped 5,000%.
- This isn’t the first time. Shkreli is the previous CEO of Retrophin, another biopharmaceutical company where the price of Thiola (tiopronin) was raised. Thiola is a medication used to treat cystinuria (cystine kidney stones), a rare genetic disorder commonly diagnosed in young children. The price for Thiola went from $1.50 per tablet to $30 per tablet—not quite as devastating as the Daraprim price change, but still a 2,000% increase.
- Daraprim is one-of-a-kind in the US. Shkreli’s reasoning for this increase was the rare use of Daraprim—but it is currently the only US-approved medication for toxoplasmosis, leaving patients who need treatment with no other options. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that may not need treatment if you’re healthy, but can be harmful to anyone who has lowered immunity. Daraprim is commonly given to AIDS patients to prevent infection, though it is also used to treat toxoplasmosis infections in otherwise healthy people who show symptoms.
- The price is going back down—but by how much? Now, Shkreli has said that Turing will lower the price of Daraprim “in response to the anger that was felt by people.” However, he has not stated what the new cost will be, only that it will still allow Turing to make a “very small profit.”
- Other drug prices are also going back down. You may have also heard about Seromycin (cycloserine), a tuberculosis medication. Similar to Daraprim, cycloserine was acquired by a new pharmaceutical company, Rodelis. Rodelis then raised the price from about $17 to about $360 per pill—another increase of more than 2000%. Rodelis has now agreed to return cycloserine to its former non-profit owner, but cycloserine still won’t return to the old price. The new cost of cycloserine will be double the original—$1050 for 30 pills, rather than $500—but still far, far less than Rodelis’s $10,800 price tag.
Have you seen significant price increases for your prescriptions recently? Let us know, and watch for more information on high drug prices in the US.