AIDS-Treating Drug: Turing CEO Will Lower Price Of Daraprim Amid Controversy

AIDS-Treating Drug: Turing CEO Will Lower Price Of Daraprim Amid Controversy
HIV-infected T cell NIAID / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The former hedge fund manager who received backlash for escalating the price of Daraprim, a drug that treats AIDS, from $13.50 per tablet to $750, said that he will lower the cost of the medication.


While Martin Shkreli did not reveal what the lowered price would be, he said that one would be determined over the next few weeks. The decision to bring down the price of the drug, he said, was a result of the criticism and outrage he became a subject of over his decision to up the price by 5000 percent. “Yes it is absolutely a reaction — there were mistakes made with respect to helping people understand why we took this action, I think that it makes sense to lower the price in response to the anger that was felt by people,” Shkreli said, as reported by NBC News.

Also read: HIV Spreads Through Free-floating Virus Vs Host Immune Cells – Research

Daraprim, the brand name for the drug pyrimethamine, is a medication consumed for treating toxoplasmosis, a disease that can potentially kill people who have weak immune systems. The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, infects an estimated 30 to 50 percent people across the globe, as reported by Toronto Star. It can be fatal for people with weakened immune systems, like those suffering from AIDS, and can also be harmful for pregnant women, who can pass it on to their babies.

After Shkreli made the announcement that he was going to increase the price, a flurry of tweets bombarded social media, with several users referring to the Turing chief executive as “personification of evil” and “the most punchable man in America.” Salon Magazine called him “the Donald Trump of drug development.” Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton also spoke against the rise in price of the drug. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medical Association also said they did not support Shkreli’s decision, further adding that “this cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication.”

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“It’s very easy to see a large drug price increase and say ‘Gosh those people must be gouging,’ but when you find out the company is not making any money, what does that mean? It’s very hard stuff to understand.” He further added, “And I think in the society we live in today it is easy to want to villainize people, and obviously we are in an election cycle where this is very tough topic for people and very sensitive. And I understand the outrage.”

Also read: AIDS Can Be Caused By HIV-Infected Immune Cells

Shkreli said on Twitter that he intended to “set the record straight on misconceptions and announce some adjustments to our plan.” The new pricing would be a “powerful new ally” for patients suffering from toxoplasmosis as the earnings can be channelled into further research and a better and “less toxic” version of Daraprim.

“Patients deserve a drug company that is turning a profit, a fair profit, and also developing a drug that is better for them,” Shkreli said, adding that his company is currently working to produce three to four other drugs. “They don’t deserve a drug that’s 70 years (old). They deserve a modern medicine.”

Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor who researches drug regulations, says creating new drugs is “ridiculous.”

“Why would you need to invent another drug?” Attaran said. “This drug works.”

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