World News #21 – Hate the Game
“On Sunday, the New York Times reported on the growing practice in the pharmaceutical industry of companies gobbling up the rights to old, but still vital drugs that treat life-threatening diseases and jacking up the price overnight. The staggering price hikes are then justified as the cost of providing the well-established medicines now rebranded as “specialty drugs.” One such treatment, Daraprim, used by AIDS patients (and others) to combat a potentially life-threatening parasite infection, for example, went from $13.50 to $750 a pill—overnight.
Why? On Monday, the world was introduced to the brains behind the Daraprim business strategy, former hedge fund manager and all around good guy, Martin Shkreli.
Shkreli, through his company Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the rights to Daraprim for $55 million in August. The drug was produced for decades by GlaxoSmithKline after being approved by the F.D.A. 62 years ago. But five years ago Glaxo sold the U.S. rights, which then changed hands a couple of more times before being bought by Shkreli. During that period, the cost of Daraprim which had settled at about $1 per tablet began to steadily rise.”
– Slate, Former Hedge Fund Bro Buys Rights to Life-Saving Drug, Starts Selling $1 Pill for $750 Overnight.
“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.”
– Huffington Post, What The Daraprim Price Hike Actually Does To Health Care.
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