Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used by patients with weakened immune systems to fight parasitic infections, from $13.50 to $750. After public backlash, CEO Martin Shkreli announced that the price would be lowered, though he did not say how much.
The Daraprim incident illustrates a failure in many regulated markets: delays that protect incumbents from potential competitors.
Now, San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., which mixes approved drug ingredients to fill individual patient prescriptions, said Thursday it will supply capsules containing Daraprim’s active ingredients, pyrimethamine and leucovorin, for $1 per pill.
Imprimis also plans to start making inexpensive versions of other generic drugs whose prices have skyrocketed, Chief Executive Mark Baum told The Associated Press.
“We are looking at all of these cases where the sole-source generic companies are jacking the price way up,” Baum said in an interview. “There’ll be many more of these” compounded drugs coming in the near future.
The high price of prescription medicines in the U.S. – from drugs for cancer and rare diseases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year down to once-cheap generic drugs now costing many times their old price – has become a hot issue in the 2016 presidential race.
News that Turing, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and other drugmakers have bought rights to old, cheap medicines that are the only treatment for serious diseases and then hiked prices severalfold has angered patients. It’s triggered government investigations, politicians’ proposals to fight “price gouging,” heavy media scrutiny and a big slump in biotech stock prices.
Imprimis, which primarily makes compounded drugs to treat cataracts and urological conditions, will work with health insurers and prescription benefit managers in each state to make its new capsules and other compounded generic medicines widely available, Baum said.
“We’re geared up. We’re ready to go as soon as the orders come in,” he said.
Baum said Imprimis will produce its pyrimethamine/leucovorin capsules, using bulk ingredients from manufacturing plants approved by the FDA, at its own facilities in Allen, Texas; Folcroft, Pennsylvania; Irvine, California, and Randolph, New Jersey.
When asked Baum admitted that Imprimis is making a healthy profit at $1 per pill because the ingredients are very inexpensive.
ISN’T COMPETITION GRAND!