Drug CEO Targeted by Clinton Is Criticized by Drug Lobby

Drug Goes From $13.50 to $750 Overnight
  • Turing "does not represent" values of drugmakers, group says
  • Drugmaker acquired old medicine, raised price 50-fold

The top U.S. pharmaceutical lobby group said a drug company that has drawn criticism for a 50-fold price increase of a decades-old drug doesn’t match its companies’ values.

Turing Pharmaceuticals AG is not a member of the group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents drugmakers including Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co. and Amgen Inc. Yet Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used Turing as an example of what she called outrageous behavior by the industry, and issued a plan Tuesday to fight high drug prices.

Hours later, the drug lobby distanced itself from Turing and its Chief Executive Officer Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager.

“@TuringPharma does not represent the values of @PhRMA member companies,” PhRMA said on the group’s Twitter account Tuesday.

PhRMA "should check their membership roster," Turing spokesman Allan Ripp said in a telephone interview. “Turing is by no mean standing alone as taking a drug that was languishing, acquired it and changed its pricing.”

Following the criticism by Clinton and others, Shkreli said Tuesday afternoon on Twitter that he will appear on television Tuesday night“to set the record straight on misconceptions and announce some adjustments to our plan.”

Industry Criticized

Turing is hardly alone in being a target. Gilead Science Inc. has been criticized for the $1,000 a day list price of its hepatitis C medicine, and makers of cancer drugs that cost $150,000 a year or more have come under scrutiny as well.

The cost of drugs has become a political issue in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton’s comment Monday sent the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index down 4.4 percent that day, and the index declined a further 2.6 percent at 2:18 p.m. New York time Tuesday.

She was responding to reports about how Turing in August acquired an older antibiotic drug, Daraprim, and soon after raised the price to $750 a pill from $13.50. The drug industry has been criticized recently for the costs of medicines to treat hepatitis C, cancer and other diseases.

On Monday, Shkreli defended the price increase for Daraprim, calling it a bargain even at the higher price. Patients typically take the drug, which treats the parasite-caused disease toxoplasmosis, for at least several weeks, at what Shkreli said was about a $50,000 cost. Some may need it for longer.

The drug lobby didn’t go so far as to agree with Clinton’s proposals, however, which include caps on out-of-pocket spending and giving the government power to negotiate prices directly with drug companies. PhRMA said the plan would "cost countless jobs across the country" and could end the U.S.’s "standing as the world leader in biomedical innovation."

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE