Imagine being one of the most despised people in the United States. Martin Shkreli, 32-year-old CEO of Turing pharmaceuticals, is one of those men. Shkreli has been accused of price gouging by raising the price of Daraprim, which is used in battling toxoplasmosis which can have severe effects on those with HIV/AIDS, from 13.50 dollars a pill to 750 dollars a pill.
According to the Center for Disease Control, some of the symptoms of the toxoplasma infection include fever, confusion, headache, seizures, nausea, and poor coordination. The parasite remains dormant in most of the population and its symptoms then resemble that of the flu (Center for Disease Control). The symptoms last for a few weeks to a few months before eventually disappearing. However, for those with strong immune systems, this is no real threat.
Turing pharmaceuticals helps patients by developing and commercializing its products for its patients. The company had developed Daraprim, a drug which helps in the prevention of parasitic reproduction in the body. Daraprim more specifically targets toxoplasmosis which is caused by the T. gondii parasite. Patients living with HIV/AIDS have weakened immune systems and are much more susceptible to the more severe side effects of the disease (Center for Disease Control). Recently, however, Shkreli has increased the price tremendously, making them virtually unattainable to the public.
Shkreli has been accused of price gouging by many, including political heavy hitters such as Hilary Clinton. Because of the influx in cost, many have become outraged as they are unable to receive the medication necessary to keep them healthy. However, there is some hope.
Imprimis pharmaceuticals has made available a much lower-cost alternative to Daraprim. The alternative, which costs around one dollar, is a customized formulation of the drug, yet it still attempts to treat toxoplasmosis.
According to USA Today “the Imprimis oral capsules – which are customized formulations of its pyrimethamine and leucovorin treatments – will be offered started at $99 for a 100 – count bottle”.
“Recent generic price increase have made us concerned and cause to take positive action to address and opportunity to help a needy population” stated CEO of Imprimis pharmaceuticals, Mark Baum.
“While we respect Turing’s right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim, for patients, physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to consider,” said Baum.
While the Imprimis alternative drug has not been officially approved by the FDA, it may still be prescribed by doctors as medication when they deem it to be the appropriate means of medication.