$1 pill launched to rival AIDS drug after CEO forced 5500% price rise
A $1 rival to drug Daraprim has been launched – after a hedge fund manager raised the price of the AIDS drug by 5500%.
Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, came under fire in September month after buying the rights to 62-year-old drug Daraprim.
The drug costs less than $1 per tablet to make, and is used to treat conditions including AIDS-related toxoplasmosis.
However, Shkreli last month attempted to dramatically increaser the price of the drug from $13.50 per tablet to $750 – an increase of 5500%.
After intense media scrutiny, Shkreli promised to revert the drug’s price, but failed to follow through on his promise.
However, a $1 rival to the drug has this week been launched – undercutting Turing’s offering by $749 per tablet.
Drugs company Express Scripts today partnered with Imprimis Pharmaceuticals to offer a low-cost generic alternative to the drug.
Dr.Steve Miller, Chief Medical Officer of Express Scripts, said: “Leveraging our expertise to improve access and affordability to an important medication is the right thing to do for HIV patients and others who could benefit from a combination of pyrimethamine and leucovorin.
“We believe we now have an extremely cost-effective way to provide access to a Daraprim alternative.
“We will share our solution with other payers to make sure all appropriate patients around the country have access to the treatment they need at the lowest possible price.”
The company partnered with the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) to help promote the alternative drug.
Dr Miller said: “Our goal is always to put medicine within reach by making it more affordable and accessible.
“By partnering with like-minded partners at Imprimis, the IDSA and HIVMA who are passionate about patient care and access, we believe we can make great progress in delivering better health outcomes to people who suffer from toxoplasmosis.”
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “This is a positive development that will improve access to lifesaving treatment for many patients, including people living with HIV and pregnant women.
“It doesn’t change the troubling fact that Martin Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals despicably preyed on vulnerable patients in an effort to turn a profit.
“Lawmakers should seek answers, hold Turing and Shkreli to account and ensure this can’t happen again.”
Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders recently rejected a donation from Shkreli.