Turing Boss Defends AIDS Drug Price Hike, Competitor Makes Cheaper Alternative

Turing Boss Defends AIDS Drug Price Hike, Competitor Makes Cheaper Alternative
HIV-infected T cell NIAID / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Turing Pharmaceuticals boss, Martin Shkreli, answered questions from users on Reddit late Saturday night over the controversy surrounding the Daraprim drug scandal.


According to TechCrunch, Shkreli’s company is in the headlines again after news broke out that a competitor had manufactured a customizable $1 drug in response to Turing’s that was priced at a whopping $750 per pill. Shkreli, who following the scandal began being referred to as a “morally bankrupt sociopath” and the “most hated man in America,” came in the limelight after his company bumped up the cost of the pill by almost 5000 percent.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) forum, when asked how he would have handled things differently if given a chance, he said, “(I’d) explain it more carefully instead of being a flippant jackass.” One user went on to ask him, “How does it feel knowing the entire world thinks you’re an a***hole?,” to which the Turing boss responded, “People hate because they think I’m charging people $US750 per pill even though it costs patients less than $10 out of their pocket.”

The forum, which had Shkreli responding to several questions thrown at him, constituted to 600 comments to the thread that lasted several hours. You can read the entire Q and A here.

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According to the Associated Press, Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc, is selling an alternative pill using the same ingredients, pyrimethamine and leucovorin, at 99 cents per capsule. Imprimis CEO, Mark Baum, said in an interview, “We are looking at all of these cases where the sole-source generic companies are jacking the price way up.” He added, “There’ll be many more of these” drugs in the future.

Sydney University researcher, Alice Williamson, who said the dramatic hike in the cost of Daraprim by Turing was “outrageous” and “unprecedented,” said that she and her team could “make [the same pill] in the lab within a week, for a dollar.”

Following nationwide outrage over the Daraprim scandal, Shkreli took measures to minimize damage by dropping the price of the pill. However, many people said that that wasn’t enough. Shkreli said that lowering the price of the pill would cut jobs and affect the “research for lethal diseases.”

“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,” he said. “Our first and primary stakeholder is patients. There’s no doubt about that. I can see how it looks greedy, but I think there’s a lot of altruistic properties to it.”