A former hedge fund manager faces immense heat and criticism after purchasing the rights to a drug that treats AIDS, then subsequently raised the price from $13.50 per tablet to $750.
Martin Shkreli, founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, purchased the rights to Daraprim in August for $55 million. The pill was originally created to fight toxoplasmosis, which affects people whose immune systems have been impacted by AIDS, chemotherapy and pregnancy, and also treats malaria, according to the Center of Disease Control. Soon thereafter, the price of the tablet – which takes $1 to produce – skyrocketed to $750 per tablet. As reported by Bloomberg, Shkreli increased the price because Turing Pharmaceuticals “needed to turn a profit on the drug,” further adding, “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business.”
Social media users severely rebuked Shkreli’s decision. Hillary Clinton took to Twitter, saying, “Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I’ll lay out a plan to take it on.” Another user tweeted, “Hedge fund managers make a living charging people to gamble with their money. And now one of these f****** is profiteering off sick people.” However, Shkreli defended his stance, quoting Eminem: “And it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me So I point one back at em, but not the index or pinkie.”
For some people, the spike in price could escalate the total costs for treatment to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those covered by insurance would have to pay $150 a tablet. The company intends to channel the money into creating and developing better treatments for toxoplasmosis with lesser side effects. It also looks to invest in marketing and education to raise awareness about the disease. It was revealed in a report from the Prime Institute at the University of Minnesota that the average cost of brand name medications was raised by 13 percent in 2013. The cost of new cancer drugs has risen to more than $100,000 a year.
According to Daily Mail, Shkreli was a hedge funder who allegedly violated FDA regulations on drug companies whose stocks he was shorting. He wrote deplorable blog posts about companies he was shorting, accusing them of having problems, which elicited a public scolding by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who accused Shkreli of “spreading unfounded and inaccurate rumors about drugs owned by companies he was shorting” and urged the Department of Justice to investigate him.
He was sacked from a drug company he founded, Retrophin. The company was infamously known for purchasing the rights to little known drugs and escalating their prices – the cost for one such drug, used for treating kidneys, shot up by 2,000 percent. The company fired Shkreli, who is being sued for $65 million.
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