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An important drug in the battle against cancer and HIV has gone up in price, not a couple of pennies but rather hundreds of dollars.
The price of Daraprim has gone from $13.50 per pill to $750.00 - a 50-fold increase. The drug combat's toxoplasmosis, a parasite that attacks patients with a compromised immune system.
Those with cancer, HIV, and even pregnant women use the drug.
The cost explosion has nothing to do with a shortage or manufacturing problems. Instead, it’s tied to a change in the company with the rights to market the drug.
Turing Pharmaceuticals made the adjustment after acquiring the medication from Impax Laboratories. “This is a tremendous increase," Judith Aberg told USA Today. Aberg is with the HIV Medicine Association.
“Even patients with insurance could have trouble affording the medication.” The CDC says victims often feel like they have the flu, but the illness can progress and cause brain damage and blindness.
The founder and chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals is Martin Shkreli, 32, a former hedge fund manager. Shkreli's reaction to the controversy has been widely panned. In a series of interviews Monday, he defended the price increase.
He told Bloomberg News:
“The price that they were pricing it at, $13.50, you only needed less than 100 pills, so at the end of the day the price per course of treatment - to save your life! - was only $1,000.”
Turing spokesman Craig Rothenberg claims the company will work with patients, even making the drug free for the uninsured. He also says money from sales of Daraprim will go back into research. “There has been no innovation in dealing with toxoplasmosis,” he said.