Turing chief executive Martin Shkreli (shown here) has become an overnight villain after public interest organizations raised alarm over his company buying a long-used medicine, Daraprim, in the treatment of AIDS and immediately raised the price of $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. When a reporter asked him to explain the increase for a drug that has been on the market for 62 years, Shkreli called him a “moron” and refused to answer the question. The company has now become a target in the presidential election as an example of how companies are still profiteering on these drugs.
Daraprim is used to address a food-borne illness called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite that can severely affect those with compromised immune systems. Turing purchased the rights to the drug last month and hit AIDS patients with the immediate massive increase.
Judith Aberg, a spokesperson for the HIV Medicine Association, says that even with insurance, the increase would mean that patients could be forced to pay $150 per pill out of pocket.
Alberg’s group and the Infectious Diseases Society of America wrote in a joint letter to Turing declaring the price increase to be “unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population” and “unsustainable for the health care system.”
Turing spokesman Craig Rothenberg has said the company will use the money to fun more research and marketing and education tools to raise awareness of the disease.
With a price increase of at least 4,100 percent, John Carroll, the editor of Fierce Biotech, asked Turing chief executive Martin Shkreli directly to explain the increase and Shkreli refused to explain and instead insulted him personally as “irrelevant” and someone who doesn’t “think logically. He also sent a helpful tweet that said “You are such a moron.”
After all, Turing’s webpage explains that “We are dedicated to helping patients” . . . at $750 pill.