What The Daraprim Price Hike Actually Does To Health Care

In August, a startup company called Turing Pharmaceuticals AG bought the exclusive marketing rights to Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug that treats toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can affect those living with HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Led by CEO Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, Turing jacked up the price of this humble yet life-saving drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 — a stunning 55-fold overnight increase that drew widespread criticism.

Shkreli didn’t invent the practice of acquiring the exclusive rights to an old drug and hiking up the price — in fact, CorePharma, another pharmaceutical company that acquired Daraprim before Turing in 2010, did the same thing — but outrage over his actions have thrust this issue into the spotlight. Doctors, disease experts and patient advocate organizations are banding together to discuss what happens when the price of a pharmaceutical is governed by business interests.

Patient advocacy groups say Turing’s action with Daraprim has put an unjustifiable burden on patients and create unsustainable costs for the health system at large.

The price increase, which took place in August, has already had a chilling effect on the small patient population affected. A joint letter from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association wrote that hospitals and pharmacies are no longer able to stock the medication. They also calculate that year-long treatment for toxoplasmosis will now cost $336,000 for those who weigh less than 132 pounds, and $634,500 for those who weigh more than that.

‘It’s clearly the best drug.’

In all, only 2,000 Americans use Daraprim every year, noted Bloomberg. While toxoplasmosis affects an estimated 22.5 percent of Americans over the age of 12, typically only people with immune systems weakened by HIV/AIDS, cancer —> Read More