Whatever price Turing Pharmaceuticals, LLC, paid for the rights to the drug Daraprim, it looks like it will end up taking a huge loss, according to a press release by Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., announcing their generic alternative to the medication that they plan to market.
Turing CEO Martin Shkreli became "the most hated man in America" last month after raising the cost of the drug, commonly used to treat parasitic infections in immunocompromised patients, from $13.50 per pill to a staggering $750 per dose, claiming the company's exorbitant price hike was justified. Now Imprimis will offer their alternative to those who need Daraprim for less than $1 per tablet.
That's less than the price of a cup of coffee, and less than the cost of a breakfast sandwich at McDonalds. And that means that if the claims made by Imprimis are true, Turing and Shkreli can kiss that huge profit they were counting on good bye.
Shkreli created a huge uproar in announcing the price raise and defending it, drawing the ire of celebrities and politicians, criticizing him for shameless greed. Even controversial and outspoken presidential candidate Donald Trump had harsh words Shkreli, calling him a "spoiled brat" and saying he should be ashamed of himself for the price hike amounting to over 5,000 percent.
Shkreli also tried to buy himself a meeting with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders by donating to his campaign, believing he could convince the senator of why the price hike was justified. Sanders donated the campaign gift to a Washington area clinic and refused to meet with what his campaign manager called "the poster boy of drug company greed."
Mark L. Baum, CEO of Imprimis, made it clear their response was directly related to the actions of Turing Pharmaceuticals and Martin Shkreli.
"While we respect Turing's right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications such as Daraprim... Imprimis is now offering customizable compounded formulations of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in oral capsules starting as low as $99.00 for a 100 count bottle, or at a cost of under a dollar per capsule."Pyrimethamine is used to treat parasitic infections such as toxoplasmosis or malaria, with the former being an increased risk in immunocompromised patients, such as those who are HIV-positive, pregnant, or undergoing chemotherapy, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
The compound medication offered by Imprimis isn't exactly the same as Daraprim, but as a customizable compound can be an acceptable replacement, according to Baum. Imprimis' announcement is the first alternative to the monopoly on Daraprim held by Turing, giving the company control over a crucial treatment for many AIDS and cancer patients. Not only is Imprimis stepping up to the plate to offer a reasonably-priced alternative for those facing a life-threatening illness, Baum made it clear his company is dedicated to seeking out other medications priced too high and offering affordable alternatives.
"This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug – especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim – has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable. In response to this recent case and others that we will soon identify, Imprimis is forming a new program called Imprimis Cares which is aligned to our corporate mission of making novel and customizable medicines available to physicians and patients today at accessible prices."Imprimis also included in its press release what appears to be some preemptive text for any lawsuit that might be coming up, but are they protecting themselves from future claims by potential patients, or an expected legal battle with Turing Pharmaceuticals? So far, Martin Shkreli has not publicly responded to the news of this new competitor on the market.
[Photo by Taylor Weidman / Getty Images]