Biotech and Pharma

Turing urged to cut drug price after huge spike

Turing still hasn't lowered drug price

More than 150 health groups called for Turing Pharmaceuticals to follow through on its promise a month ago to lower the price of Daraprim, the 62-year-old medicine whose price Turing raised 5,000 percent after acquiring it earlier this year.

Daraprim treats toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic infection that can arise in immunocompromised patients, such as those with AIDS and cancer. It's also often used for pregnant women.

Turing acquired the drug and subsequently raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750, saying it would use the proceeds to support research of better treatments for toxoplasmosis. Under intense backlash from doctors groups and then the general public, Turing said it would lower the price to break even or to turn a small profit. That was Sept. 22.

"We ... are concerned that despite a commitment by Turing Pharmaceuticals to lower the price of Daraprim (pyrimethamine) more than a month ago, the price has not been reduced nor have distribution issues been sufficiently addressed," the health groups wrote in a statement Thursday.

Martin Shkreli
Paul Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The statement was distributed by the HIV Medicine Association, one of the groups that originally called on Turing to lower the price of the drug.

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The groups asked Turing to return the price to a similar place to where it was before the increase; charge the same for inpatient and outpatient use; make patient assistance available to needy patients and increase transparency; and to ensure quick and direct access to the medicine for patients who need it.

In a statement this month, Turing stressed "our goal has been to ensure that every patient who needs Daraprim has ready and affordable access to it." The company noted it continues to participate in patient assistance programs.

Turing and its CEO, Martin Shkreli, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"I think that it makes sense to lower the price in response to the anger that was felt by people," Shkreli, 32, told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell last month.

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An informal survey of pharmacies conducted by CNBC this month revealed the average price of Daraprim was still more than $750 per tablet.

"The unjustifiable actions taken to leverage the value of an effective 70-year-old medication are jeopardizing the health of individuals with a serious, life-threatening condition. These individuals do not have the luxury of time to wait for promised new treatments which also will likely be priced out of reach," the HIVMA statement read.