- CEO Martin Shkreli previously promised to reduce drug's price
- Turing raised pill's price to $750 from $13.50 this year
Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, the drugmaker that raised the price of an anti-infective drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent, suggested that it won’t cut the drug’s list price, instead offering to negotiate discounts with hospitals.
“A reduction in Daraprim’s list price would not translate into a benefit for patients,” Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. The company did say it would negotiate discounts with hospitals of as much as 50 percent.
After Turing faced broad criticism from politicians, advocates and health-care providers, Chief Executive Officer Martin Shkreli said in September he would cut the drug’s price. “We have agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a point that is more affordable,” he said in an interview with ABC News that aired Sept. 22. Shkreli didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Turing acquired Daraprim in August and raised its price to $750 a pill from $13.50. Even with the discount to hospitals, it will cost $375 a pill.
“A 50 percent reduction after a 5,000 percent price increase still makes this an extremely expensive drug, and still prevents most hospitals from keeping it in stock,” said Joel Gallant, medical director of specialty services at Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Southwest CARE Center, where he works on HIV. “Suffice it to say that this announcement doesn’t satisfy anyone.”
Turing said in the statement that it would start providing free samples to some health-care providers, and make smaller bottles of the drug available to hospitals next year in order to lower their costs to stock the treatment. The company also has existing programs to lower patients’ co-pays for the drug to less than $10.
List prices aren’t the ultimate determinant of what a drug actually costs the health-care system. Insurers typically try and negotiate discounts, which can be based on whether there are competing treatments or generics available. While Turing’s drug, Daraprim, is decades old, there aren’t generic equivalents available in the U.S.
Turing said it was trying to keep patients’ out-of-pocket cost low. “By providing affordable access for hospitals and reaffirming our commitment that nearly all patients will receive Daraprim for $10 or less out-of-pocket per prescription, that’s what we have done,” Retzlaff said in the statement.
It’s not clear from the company’s statement that that discount offered to hospitals and patients would also be given to insurers who pay for the drugs, or whether the hospital discount would apply to supplying the drug for outpatient use. The company also didn’t say how big the discount would be for most hospitals, or how many would get the discount.
A company spokesman declined to comment.
Daraprim treats a condition called toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a parasite that can become active in people with weakened immune systems because of HIV, chemotherapy or other conditions or treatments.