Earlier this year in September, Turing Pharmaceuticals attracted international scorn when it purchased the rights to the toxoplasmosis drug “Daraprim” and increased the price from $13.50 per pill to $750. Amidst the backlash, CEO Martin Skhreli promised that the company would reduce the price hike. Now, Turing has released information on exactly how it intends to make Daraprim more accessible even though it seems to be backpedaling on the idea of lowering the price overall.
Specifically, the company outlines several plans to increase access to Daraprim within both clinical settings. Turing intends to offer discounts on the price of the drug for hospitals by up to half, or $375 for every 25 milligram (mg) pill. These discounts will only be offered to larger, high-volume hospitals, and the company will first be looking to the largest 800 in the country. Other healthcare facilities will still need to pay the full $750 per pill, but Turing will be offering a smaller 30-tablet bottle in the new year to help lower the costs of keeping the drug on hand. Free starter packages will also be given to physicians so that they can immediately begin treatment in emergency situations. All of these approaches only apply to hospital settings and not to pharmacies.
The current treatment plan for Daraprim involves 50-75mg of the drug per day for one to three weeks followed by 25 grams (g) per day for an extra four to five weeks if needed. With the price reduction, this means that hospitals seeing the discount will pay anywhere from $5,200 to $36,700 total for federally recommended dosages.
For outpatients who are filling prescriptions at pharmacies, Turing has announced a different set of approaches. The company will be participating in programs such as Medicaid and offer 100-pill bottles for as low as $1, which makes up around 60% of sales. The company will also be providing a co-pay program so that people using commercial insurance do not need to pay more than $10 per prescription. Turing is also going to be providing the drug for free to anyone at or below 500% of the federal poverty level via its patient assistance program.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Martin Skhreli made it clear that Turing will try to ensure that individuals who need Daraprim will receive it and that insurance companies and hospitals will be the ones responsible for paying the majority of the costs. It is not clear at this point whether uninsured individuals who make more than $60,000 per year will see any benefit from Turing’s announced plans or how the co-pay program will operate.
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a rare but potentially serious parasitic infection that primarily affects immune compromised individuals or those who are infected in the womb.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Label: DARAPRIM- Pyrimethamine Tablet,” DailyMed web site, http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=3e4d5027-7939-480f-ae19-82e764d9fa97&audience=consumer, last accessed November 26, 2015.
Shkreli, M., “Martin Shkreli: Daraprim Has Always Been Affordable,” Bloomberg web site, November 25, 2015; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-11-25/martin-shkreli-daraprim-has-always-been-affordable.
Pearl, M., “That Pharma CEO Everyone Hates Isn’t Lowering the Price of That $750 Pill After All,” VICE web site, November 25, 2015; http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/that-pharma-ceo-everyone-hates-isnt-lowering-the-price-of-that-pill-after-all-vgtrn-407.
“Press Release -Turing Reduces Cost of Daraprim (pyrimethamine),” Turing Pharmaceuticals web site, November 24, 2015; https://www.thepharmaletter.com/article/turing-pharma-reduces-cost-of-daraprim-in-the-usa.