Sharp drug price increase could earn CEO most hated status

Company plans to significantly raise the price of a parasitic infection drug widely available in Latin America.

Martin Shkreli is under fire again for announcing his company plans to sharply raise the cost of a years-old drug for treating a serious infectious disease, which may earn him the status of most hated man in America.

According to an article on cnbc.com, Shkreli’s company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, is causing quite a stir in the community of sufferers of Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can lead to heart issues, that can potentially be fatal.

Mr. Shekreil says he wants to take advantage of a federal program that was designed to provide incentive for companies to develop new drugs.  He wants to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the drug that treats Chagaas for sale in the United States, by obtaining a voucher from the program.

Those opposed to the move say this would be an abuse of the system, because the drug is already developed and Shkreli would only be getting approval for a drug that was available in tropical countries instead of developing a new drug.

This past September, Turing was involved in another controversy when it acquired the rights to a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, another parasitic infection, and immediately jacked the price of the 62-year-old drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

An investor group, led by Mr. Shkreli took control of a California biotechnology company, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, in November of this year and one of the first moves was to license the rights worldwide for a version of benzidazole, a standard treatment for Chagas in South and Central America, but which has never been approved for sale in the US.

Shrkeli reportedly told investors that should the company receive approval from the FDA for selling the drug in the US, they would have exclusive rights for at least five years, and the price would be similar to a drug for treating hepatitis C, somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 during the course of treatment.

Currently, the drug is being used in Latin America and is running from $50 to $100 for a typical two-month treatment for the disease.

Experts say the cost would be devastating for those typically infected with the parasite, most of which are poor and lack insurance.  Some 300,000 people in the US have the disease, nearly all immigrants from Latin America who were infected before arriving in the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts