Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc. has introduced a pill that costs just $1 but claims to work as a replacement to Daraprim, a pill that shot to $750 in recent times.
Specialty drug maker Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc. confirmed it will offer its generic variant of Daraprim, an anti-infective drug, at a dollar a pill. In comparison, Daraprim’s price was hiked by its maker, Turing Pharmaceuticals, by more than 5,000 percent to $750 a pill. The maker of compounded drugs appears to have begun selling $1 pills in various concentrations of the active ingredients on its website. The order form on the Imprimis website allows users of Daraprim to procure the generic alternative as per their requirement or as prescribed by their physician.
San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc. doesn’t offer a pill that is in direct competition to Daraprim because it mixes approved drug ingredients to fill individual patient prescriptions. Hence, the company confirmed it will supply capsules containing Daraprim’s active ingredients, Pyrimethamine and Leucovorin, for $99 for a 100-capsule bottle only through an online order system through its website.
The company confirmed that it will also start making cheaper variants of other generic drugs, whose prices have ballooned in recent times.
Speaking about the efforts to offer affordable replacement to drugs that have become very expensive suddenly, Imprimis’ chief executive, Mark Baum, said, “We are looking at all of these cases where the sole-source generic companies are jacking the price way up. There’ll be many more of these compounded drugs coming in the near future.”
Interestingly, Imprimis’ formula isn’t FDA approved, a formality which Daraprim has completed. However, those interested in procuring it can do so with a doctor’s prescription. Daraprim’s expensive medicine is prescribed for fighting toxoplasmosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toxoplasmosis is the second leading cause of death from foodborne illness in America. About a million people in the U.S. alone are infected annually by the parasite.
Incidentally, it’s not just Daraprim that jacked up the prices. Other prescription medicines too — from drugs for cancer and rare diseases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year down to once-cheap generic drugs — have started to cost very dearly, reported the Times of India. It is such a hot topic that some experts feel it would have a bearing on the presidential race too.
The escalation in prices is due to the fact that large pharmaceutical companies like Turing, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., and others have cleverly bought rights to medicines that are the only line of treatment for a few deadly diseases and subsequently hiked the prices manifold. This has not only angered the helpless patients who rely on these pills but have triggered multiple events, including administrative proposals to fight “price gouging” and tumbling share prices of biotech companies that are suspected of indulging in such practices.
The most worrying aspect is that the United States simply doesn’t have any price control legislature on medicines, while such provisions to protect the interest of the general citizenry, is common in Europe, reported Yahoo News. In fact, Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceutical International Inc. has admitted that it is under investigation for its pricing practices. After acquiring heart medication Isuprel in 2013, Valeant increased its prices by eightfold, thereby forcing patients to pay a lot more for the drug.
In the case of Daraprim, the price of the drug was about $13.50 for a pill, but Turing Pharmaceuticals jacked it up to $750 per pill. If Imprimis’s $1 pill can work as well as Daraprim, the company would easily drive its competitor out of the market.
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