Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Bitter Pill

Martin Shkreli, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Daraprim, greed, FDA, ilustration, Common Sense

When Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, announced his August acquisition of Daraprim, the only available version of the anti-parasitic pyrimethamine, and his plan to raise its price from under $14.00 to $750 per dose, I did not comment. Everybody else seemed to know exactly how evil the man was, and how awful the system that allowed his machinations.

I knew only that I didn’t know enough.

After reading Mary J. Ruwart’s “The $750 Pill: Corporate Greed, Excessive Regulation—or Both?,” I’m glad I waited. According to Dr. Ruwart, who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry, even the barest facts in the case incite suspicion:

Daraprim was patented in the 1950s, and is used for treating parasitic infections in fewer than 13,000 people a year in the U.S.  Turing bought exclusive rights to distribute the drug in the U.S. from Impax for $55 million; drug sales are less than $10 million/year. Impax itself bought daraprim several years earlier. It upped the price from $1 to $13.50/pill, causing the number of prescriptions to drop about 30%.

As Ruwart explains, the drug is no longer patent-protected, and “any generic company could make daraprim. . . .” So, what gives?

A company cannot just jump into the market. It has to prove — to the Food and Drug Administration — that its new generic would enter the bloodstream exactly as the old one. With the FDA’s red tape, this costs millions.

Which allows companies like Turing to effectively reclaim a monopoly for a little-used generic. Blame the FDA.

Still, there is some competition, from a company with a similar drug, priced at $1 per tablet.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


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Martin Shkreli, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Daraprim, greed, FDA, ilustration, Common Sense

 

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1 Comment

  1. JFB says:

    So this is a case for de-regulation or corrected and simplified qualification of generic equivalents (understanding the present regulations were doubtless encouraged and claimed necessary by the current patent and stake holders).   In other words, the market would work if it was not hindered by the government/stakeholder cabal, personally I am not surprised and given the mess its seems the $750 a dose is a reasonable estimate of what the hindered and paralyzed market will allow. 

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