The chief executive of a US pharmaceutical company has defended his firm’s decision to raise the price of an Aids medication by more than 5,000% practically overnight.
Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to the medication Daraprim in August.
CEO Martin Shkreli, who has been subjected to a social media backlash since the announcement, has said it will use the money it makes from sales to research new treatments.
Daraprim treats toxoplasmosis, a parasitic affliction that affects people with compromised immune systems.
After Turing’s acquisition, a dose of Daraprim in the US increased from $13.50 (£8.70) to $750.
The pill costs about $1 to produce, but Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said that does not include other costs like marketing and distribution, which have increased dramatically in recent years.
Insurance firms, politicians, advocates for patients and other critics have been blasting those prices as outrageous and unsustainable for the healthcare system and patients who sometimes must pay up to 30% of the cost. “We needed to turn a profit on this drug,” Shkreli told Bloomberg TV.
“The companies before us were actually giving it away almost.”
He says the practice is not out of line with the rest of the industry. “These days, modern pharmaceuticals, cancer drugs can cost $100,000 or more, whereas these drugs can cost half a million dollars.
"Daraprim is still underpriced relative to its peers,” he told Bloomberg TV.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association, and other health care providers wrote an open letter to Turing, urging the company to reconsider.
“This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system,” the groups wrote.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved