How Turing’s Controversial $750 Pill Could be Eclipsed by a $1 Rival
Business + Economy

How Turing’s Controversial $750 Pill Could be Eclipsed by a $1 Rival

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Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton called him an outrageous drug “price gouger.” GOP frontrunner Donald Trump dismissed him as “a spoiled brat.” And Sen. Bernie Sanders rejected his campaign contribution as soiled money.

Martin Shkreli, the cocky, 32-year-old former Wall Street hedge fund manager and owner of Turing Pharmaceuticals, caused a national furor recently after he acquired the rights to a drug called Daraprim for treating parasitic infections and then jacked up the price by 5,000 percent – from $13.50 a tablet to $750.

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The drug has been on the market for more than 60 years, and the Infectious Disease Society of America and others have estimated that it would cost $336,000 a year to treat someone with toxoplasmosis at $750 per pill, according to reports.

While he has been roundly ridiculed by presidential candidates, health care advocates and others as the poster child for corporate greed and bad behavior, Shkreli may have just taken an even bigger hit – to his wallet.

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego-based company, said this week that it could make a “close, customized version” of the drug for $1 a pill, according to NBC News. If Imprimis makes good on its threat, then Shkreli probably wasted $55 million in acquiring the rights to the drug from Impax Laboratory last August

"While we respect Turing's right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications such as Daraprim for patients, physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to consider," Imprimis CEO Mark Baum said in a statement.

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"This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug — especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim — has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable," Baum said.

Under withering attacks by politicians and the news media, Shkreli said last month that his company would lower the price of Daraprim – although he did not say by how much and he still hasn’t made good on his pledge. A week ago, the New York Attorney General’s office said in a statement to the New York Times that it had opened a probe into Turing’s operations, with an eye to possible anti-trust violations that discouraged competitors from making a generic version of the drug.