Daraprim: Shkreli Reduces Drug By 50%, But With Conditions

biotnMartin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, has been in the firing line because of his recent price hike on Daraprim, a drug used in the treatment of AIDS. Shkreli increased the price of Daraprim by 5000%, from $13.50 per tablet, to $750 per tablet.

Yesterday (24 Nov) the company unveiled a 50% price cut for hospitals on Daraprim. However this still leaves the drug priced at a huge $375 approx per tablet.  Below is a statement from the company on the 50% decrease:

“[..]Combined with our robust patient access programs, this is an important step in our commitment to ensure ready access to Daraprim at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost for both hospitals and patients”

said Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s Chief Commercial Officer. “We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access.”

However, the price reduction only appears to apply to hospitals using the drug, with the discount not applying to out of hospital users, who will have to rely on their insurance company to approve the cost of the drug. With hospitals, the price decrease also depends on how much of the drug the hospital uses.

The Turing statement continues:

“Turing will provide:

  • Reductions of up to 50 percent of list price for hospitals, which are the first to treat about 80 percent of patients with toxoplasmosis encephalitis — the most common form of toxoplasmosis in the United States.
  • New, smaller bottles of 30 tablets for hospitals to make it easier to stock Daraprim as well as lower their carrying costs. We plan to make these available in early 2016.
  • Sample starter packages at zero cost to ensure physicians treating patients in the community have free and immediate access to start therapy in emergency situations. We plan to make these available in early 2016.

Additionally for the outpatient setting, Turing will continue to:

  • Expand distribution partnerships to ensure optimal patient access.
  • Participate in federal and state programs such as Medicaid and the Section 340B discount program having costs as low as $1 per 100-pill bottle, which currently account for approximately two-thirds of Daraprim sales.
  • Commit to patients with Commercial insurance that their out-of-pocket obligation will be no more than $10 per prescription when Turing’s co-pay program is used.
  • Contribute to Patient Services, Inc. (PSI), a longstanding independent charity that provides financial assistance for Medicare patients’ cost-sharing requirements on toxoplasmosis therapies, consistent with PSI’s advisory opinion from the HHS Office of Inspector General.
  • Provide Daraprim free-of-charge to uninsured, qualified patients with demonstrated income at or below 500% of the federal poverty level through our Patient Assistance Program.[..]

Ms. Retzlaff of Turing added:

“Drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry. A drug’s list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access. A reduction in Daraprim’s list price would not translate into a benefit for patients. Physicians, patients, hospitals, and patient advocacy groups have told us time and time again that we need to keep patients’ out-of-pocket costs low, have patient assistance programs in place and ensure hospitals can afford to stock Daraprim for treatment of the most vulnerable patients. 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. “[..]

However, organisations like the Human Rights Campaign have criticised what they call the ridiculous price ‘roll back’ announcement, saying this new price is still far above the drug’s original $13.50 price. The original low-priced drug is on the market for the last 62 years.



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