Looks like Turing’s test was a failure. Turing Pharmaceuticals is reneging on its promise to cut the cost of the lifesaving drug Daraprim, after buying the rights to the drug in August and raising the price fiftyfold to $750 per pill from $13.50. Instead, the small biotech company says it’s reducing the price for hospitals by up to 50 percent for the drug, which treats toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic infection that mainly strikes pregnant women and HIV patients. Turing’s CEO, the former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, made the announcement Tuesday, as company officials claimed it was more important to cut the medicine’s cost to hospitals, according to The New York Times.
A drug’s list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access, Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, told the Times. A reduction in Daraprim’s list price would not translate into a benefit to patients. Tim Horn, HIV project director for the AIDS research organization Treatment Action Group, called Turing’s move “lipstick on a pig,” noting that many patients have to have affordable access to the drug well after they’ve left the hospital, the Times reports.
The 62-year-old drug had no competition until a furor over the gigantic price hike erupted, triggering multiple government investigations. A pharmacy that compounds prescription drugs for individual patients then stepped in and started selling a capsule version for 99 cents. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals says orders are pouring in from doctors and that it has dispensed more than 2,500 capsules in barely a month.