Martin Shkreli, CEO of pharmaceutical company Turing Pharmaceuticals, has backed down over a 5,000% cost hike on a life saving drug following international condemnation over the move.
Daraprim, the drug, is a life saving HIV pill that originally cost $13.50 (£8.79), but that price was raised earlier this week to $750 (£488). Daraprim is currently the only drug that is allowed in the USA to treat toxoplasmosis and was developed in the 50’s, but more recently is being used to help treat those with autoimmune disorders, such as HIV and AIDS. At one point in it’s 62 year life, the drug was sold for $1.
In interviews earlier this week, Shkreli defended the move, saying that his company was losing profits at selling the drug for the original price, and the $750 price tag on the drug was still incurring a loss for his company. The unapologetic Shkreli gave his answer as a resounding “no” when asked whether or not the outcry would cause him to backtrack on the move and lower the price of Daraprim.
In one comment to the interviewees on Bloomberg TV, he said “This drug saves your life for $50,000… At this price, it’s a no-brainer.”
Democratic Presidential candidate and former First Lady Hillary Clinton spoke out against the move. She has used the outrage following the price hike to outline her plans on a cap on prescription drugs after concerns that drugs companies were taking advantage of those with serious and chronic medical conditions to increase their profit. Clinton tweeted on Monday that “Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous.”
Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on. -H https://t.co/9Z0Aw7aI6h
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 21, 2015
This comment sent shares in US biotechnology plummeting before the close of the stock markets in the UK.
This move by Shkreli is not the first pharmaceutical backlash he has caused, after he raised prices of the potentially life saving cystinuria treatment drug, Thiola, by 2,000% in the early half of this decade.