by Jen Jenkins, Market Analyst
The most recent case of a pharmaceutical company exorbitantly raising the price of an otherwise inexpensive drug has brought certain “Big Pharma” issues careening back into the spotlight. Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired a 62-year-old drug called Daraprim back in August. This drug, used mainly to treat a rare parasitic infection in patients with compromised immune systems such as babies, or adults with AIDS/HIV and cancer, originally rang in at $13.50 a tablet; that is until Turing acquired it and the price per tablet soared to $750. More attention is typically bestowed upon the high prices of new drugs, but this particular situation brings to light an evolving issue of mind-boggling price increases in drugs that have been around a long time and are mainstays in certain types of care.
A huge concern with these increases is that hospitals are more likely to turn to alternatives that may not prove as effective. Although high prices are known to happen within the industry due to shortages, the cases described here are happening merely due to business strategy. Other examples, just to name a few, include a drug called Cycloserine, which increased from $500 for 30 pills to $10,800; also, just last month two members of Congress investigated another incident where two separate heart drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress, were acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals and subsequently raised in price by 525% and 212% respectively.
The 32-year-old founder and chief executive of Turing explained the recent price hike away by saying it is now more in line with other drugs that treat rare diseases and that most patients use the drug for far less than a year anyway. The sad truth of it all is that the CEO’s unapologetic response to the backlash of the situation is far from unusual, as is the fact that his drug company is only one of many that has and will continue to unconscionably inflate prices.