Former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli is now said to be the world’s most hated person after suffering a severe social media backlash. His startup company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired Daraprim, an AIDS medication drug, in August.
In a joint letter, penned by The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association, the steep increase was described as “unjustifiable” for patients and “unsustainable” for the USA health care system.
Martin Shkreli, CEO and founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, stated that Daraprim’s price hike would affect a modest number of patients, noting that the drug is rarely used.
Shkreli said during the interview that even at $750 per pill, it is “still underpriced relative to its peers”. It also stressed that some patients can get financial aid from the company to obtain the drug.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was among those who expressed outrage over the price increase. “We’re developing three or four different kinds of drugs for toxoplasmosis“, Shkreli told Bloomberg.
Increased scrutiny on this practice has already led a company that sells a tuberculosis drug to rescind a major price hike enacted just last month.
“It’s very easy to see a large drug price increase and say ‘Gosh those people must be gouging, ‘ but when you find out the company is not making any money, what does that mean?”
Shkreli had earlier said the company was simply trying to make a reasonable profit and fund research to improve the drug, and said people who had trouble affording it could qualify for financial assistance programs. The IDSA and HIVMA have stated the new prices will mean a cost of between $336,000 (£217,000) and $634,500 (£410,000), depending on the patient’s weight, for those with toxoplasmosis. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings introduced the “Medicaid Generic Drug Price Fairness Act” in July, which seeks to address possible price gouging.