Company Acquires Rights To Drug Used By AIDS/Cancer Patients; Immediately Raises Per Pill Price From Under $14 To $750

from the because-fuck-you,-that's-why dept

When pharmaceutical companies defend outrageously-priced medicines, they often claim these massive profit margins are there to help them recoup the money dumped into research and development. But that has nothing to do with the high prices. R&D costs are consistently lower than companies portray them. The real reason for exorbitant drug prices is a monopoly granted by patents, which lock out all competitors for years. And when the patent nears expiration, pharma companies extend their monopoly by doing questionable things -- like testing high-powered, opiate-based painkillers on children -- just to extend the patent protection for another few months.

None of that, however, explains this: (h/t to Techdirt reader pixelpusher220)

Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill last month, shortly after purchasing the rights to the drug from Impax Laboratories. Turing has exclusive rights to market Daraprim (pyrimethamine), on the market since 1953.

Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, the second most common food-borne disease, which can easily infect people whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy or even pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In this case, any research and marketing costs have long since been recouped (or at least amortized). The patents behind the drug -- all granted between 1951 and 1954 -- should be dead. Conveniently for Turing (and other rights holders before it), no company is offering a generic version.

Every time the drug has changed hands (and it's done it more than once), the price has gone up. But no other company has increased the price quite as much as Turing Pharmaceuticals has. Perhaps that's because Turing spent a significant amount of money to acquire an exclusive marketing license, but with none of the attendant patent exclusivity.
Impax Laboratories, Inc. (NASDAQ: IPXL) today announced that it has sold its U.S. rights to the Daraprim brand to Turing Pharmaceuticals AG for approximately $55 million.
Turing, of course, realizes this price jump -- which puts one month's supply in the new vehicle range ($45-50,000) at minimum -- is going to be tough on those expected to pay for it, but claims to have support in place to help absorb some of the ridiculous increase.
A Turing spokesman, Craig Rothenberg, said the company is working with hospitals and providers to get every patient covered. This includes free-of-charge options for uninsured patients and co-pay assistance programs.
This sounds like exemplary altruism in the face of a presumably unavoidable [hah] increase in price. But a closer look at what Turing is actually doing shows the company will be forcing patients to choose from all of two options:
For inpatient procurement, institutions can no longer order from their general wholesaler. Instead, they must set up an account with the Daraprim Direct program. Once enrolled, orders may be placed with the company until 6 pm Monday through Friday and will be delivered the next business weekday, because there is no weekend delivery at this time.

For outpatient procurement, patients can no longer obtain the medication from their community pharmacy. All prescriptions must be transmitted to a single dispensing pharmacy: Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. Upon insurance verification and co-pay collection, the prescription will be mailed to the patient’s home, and most prescriptions can be mailed overnight.
This presents a problem for hospitals. Although the drug is low-use (it combats the effects of toxoplasmosis -- something that can cause serious issues for those with weakened immune systems, like cancer/HIV patients), it still is needed often enough that the two access routes just aren't enough.
My institution recently encountered a difficult scenario in which pyrimethamine was attempted to be obtained through the Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. The patient in question was currently homeless, and therefore did not have a home or address to which the medication could be delivered. Additionally, the manufacturer did not yet have a system in place to address the situation.

This could have been extremely problematic, but fortunately, my institution is affiliated with a Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy and contracted to provide bedside delivery to patients prior to discharge. The patient was able to receive the pyrimethamine as an inpatient.
Turing, of course, defends the increased price by claiming the exorbitant profit margin will result in increased R&D. But let's take a closer look at what its spokesman is actually saying.
Rothenberg defended Daraprim's price, saying that the company will use the money it makes from sales to further research treatments for toxoplasmosis.
Translation: this money will be dumped into finding another variation to patent, thus locking out potential competitors and allowing Turing to continue charging whatever it wants for the medication.
They also plan to invest in marketing and education tools to make people more aware of the disease.
Translation: we will market the hell out of this new drug.

This sort of thing isn't exclusive to Turing. It's standard MO for all pharmaceutical companies. Rather than engage in meaningful competition, these companies are awarded lengthy monopolies on drugs and treatments by the US government. Turing is no different than Amedra -- part of the holding company acquired by Turing along with the Daraprim rights. But when Amedra acquired the rights from GlaxoSmithKline, it somehow managed to keep its price hike to a couple of dollars, rather than several hundred.

This huge price jump has more to do with the man running Turing, Martin Shkreli. Shkreli doesn't have a background in pharmaceuticals, but he does know how to run a hedge fund. And he's used this expertise to become highly-unpopular very quickly.
Since founding Turing last year, Shkreli has taken a page from what made Retrophin a high-profile--and controversial--player among small biotech companies. Retrophin's stated goal was ferreting out value in biopharma by acquiring assets with potential in rare and neglected diseases, a process that can mean acquiring an underused drug and jacking up its cost to take advantage of rare disease pricing.
Here's one of the moves Shkreli made as the head of Retrophin.
In September 2014 Retrophin acquired the rights to thiola, a drug used to treat the rare disease cystinuria. It was with Shkreli as CEO that Retrophin introduced a 20-fold price increase for Thiola, despite no additional research and development costs incurred by obtaining these rights.
Turing is basically Retrophin 2.0, or more accurately, Shkreli being Shkreli. Shkreli may have still been helming Retrophin at this point, had his own company not ousted him. In August, his former company also sued him, alleging financial impropriety.

It appears that Shkreli is a bit too comfortable operating in gray areas. The market-related shadiness alleged in the lawsuit appears to be just part of Shkreli's everyday business affairs.
In an uncommon move, Shkreli himself led the Series A financing, and Turing isn't naming any of its other backers, calling them "preeminent institutional equity investors" and leaving it at that. In a filing with the SEC last week, Turing counted 34 individual participants in its funding round but reported raising just $62.7 million.
This reported total of the funding round didn't match the claimed total ($90 million). Shkreli had an answer for the missing funding. And that answer was "Shut up."
A spokesman for the company declined to explain the $27.3 million difference, and further questions about the company's financials were met with a terse email from Shkreli asking FierceBiotech not to contact Turing again.
However, if you do feel like discussing the 5000% increase in Daraprim's price, feel free to take your questions to Shkreli himself, who is surprisingly accessible on Twitter. Just know ahead of time that you're too stupid to understand complicated business stuff, you don't represent anyone worth talking to, "everyone else is doing it," and shut up.

The unasked question has its answer: why did Turning flip the switch on a 5000% price increase? Because it can. And it's not just the people being prescribed Daraprim that will eat the cost. It will be every customer of every health insurer that covers the rest of the cost of these prescriptions. These additional expenses will eventually result in higher health insurance premiums. And while Turing is offering to help out those with little to no insurance, these costs -- whether they're absorbed by health care institutions or the government itself -- will be passed on to the general public as well.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 7:22am

    When corpses are just numbers

    To pharma companies, a massive number of sick people is not a tragedy, or something unfortunate, it's an opportunity. To those twisted individuals running such companies, the more sick people around the better, and if someone can't afford the medicine they need to survive, oh well, there's always someone else.

    When the business you're in has a link between sickness and profits, such that the more of the previous the higher the latter, it's hardly surprising that you'd end up with some seriously sociopaths individuals who care more about profits than lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:24am

      It's their new slogan

      Turing Pharmaceuticals: Your Money or Your Life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:33am

        Re: It's their new slogan

        Oh if only pharma companies were that honest...

        Really, they're telling people 'pay up or die, and you're going to pay dearly because you have no choice', the least they could do is be honest about it. 'We care more about boosting profits than saving lives', one simple line, enough with the laughable 'Oh we'd love to make the drugs affordable, but we just can't you know, those commercials aren't going to pay for themselves.'

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Ped_EcSing, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:02am

        Re: It's their new slogan

        Correction:
        Turing Pharmaceuticals: Your Money AND Yaour Life.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:24pm

      Re: When corpses are just numbers

      I forget which TV show or movie had a pharm executive as a bad guy, but the point was basically this: pharm companies don't want to cure customers (I mean "patients") since this will end the income stream. Instead, pharm companies sell drugs to counter the side effects and get people legally hooked.

      And not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but there's probably a reason why pharm companies haven't found a cure for cancer or AIDS.

      Now, granted, the show was a fictional drama, but it seems a little too accurate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:37pm

        Re: Re: When corpses are just numbers

        So we need a little girl to die due to lack of this drug and her gave shown with her clutch doll.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re: When corpses are just numbers

        You might sound like a conspiracy theorist if the companies weren't openly bragging about this to their shareholders. When you find a drug that turns cancer from a death sentence into a chronic condition, where you just take a pill every day (for the rest of your life!) and it keeps the cancer in check, that's the holy grail of for-profit pharmaceutical research.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:47pm

      Re: When corpses are just numbers

      Generics companies are our saviour in Canada, goddamn. But still, they don't invent anything. We have a massive need for new antibiotics but that means tons of research for years to cure infections that last 5-10 days max. Even the CDC is extremely concerned about this. Let's hope the assholes use the profits to some sort of really needed project like that (yeah right).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave Xanatos, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:23am

    Remember kids, patents kill!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:39am

      Re:

      Except, there are NO patents involved this time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Dave Xanatos, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re:

        Dammit! I saw "acquired the rights" and "drug" and I completely missed the not patented part. So, is something preventing a generic company from coming in and offering it? And what are the rights that were acquired? Is this now trademark law that is killing people?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They have the right to market this particular brand of the drug, which happens to be the ONLY brand of the drug.

          Nothing is preventing generics from stepping in, except that there's not enough of a market to make it worthwhile. The insanely high price WOULD be a reason, except they know that the price will plummet once there's competition.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:25am

    "But no other company has increased the price quite as much as Turing Pharmaceuticals has."

    Tim is actually wrong on this part. I seem to recall that a few years ago, another drug company increased prices on a prescription drug by more than 5,000%, and it was something that was even covered by Techdirt. I don't remember the name of the drug, but it was covered here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:34am

    Hopefully

    Hopefully the blatant greed on this company for this drug will entice a manufacture to create a generic version of this drug and undercut this company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:58am

      Re: Hopefully

      When $700/pill means you're still undercutting them, I'd say the chances are indeed high that someone will do it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:38pm

        Re: Re: Hopefully

        The question becomes do they have a monopoly because their specific brand is the only FDA approved brand? Have other companies attempted to get FDA approval of other generic brands? Has the FDA denied them? If so is the FDA (or are FDA employees) involved in back door dealings (ie: a conspiracy to scam the public)?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:25am

      Re: Hopefully

      Brazil simply ignored the patents on AIDS medicine exactly because the pharmaceutic industries refused to charge sane prices. So, yeah, this may take a very interesting turn.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 12:13pm

        Re: Re: Hopefully

        Technically, they did not ignore patents. They issued compulsory licenses for those patents, which is permitted Brazilian laws and rules established under the WTO for situations where there is a health emergency or if the pharmaceutical industry uses abusive pricing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:39am

    Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of manufacturing (sometimes) marketing and distribution of drugs that might be effective in treating a malady.

    None are in the business of cures since those affect the bottom line and the private islands in the caribean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:52pm

      Re:

      Yeah, hence the lack of research in new antibiotics. Which is scary. I bet they have some shelved somewhere secretly only to release in case of a large epidemic, where the government will have to intervene and buy large doses of it...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dan (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:41am

    Why no generics?

    If all the relevant patents have been expired for 40 years or more, why are there no generics available?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:50am

      Re: Why no generics?

      Could it be that the drug's low cost kept generic makers out of the market? Maybe now they'll have an incentive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dan (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: Why no generics?

        That's kind of what I was thinking/wondering. If that's the case, the problem should self-correct fairly quickly, I'd think.

        Tim tries to paint this as an issue with drug patents, but I can't see how they're relevant to this case. The patents, he says, are 60+ years old, and patents at that time didn't last more than 17 years from issue. It would thus follow that this drug isn't under patent any more (and hasn't been for a good long time). Thus, whatever the problem is here, it isn't likely to be patents.

        In most industries, this would appear to be an antitrust violation. Having a monopoly, by itself, isn't illegal (after all, the government can't force another company to compete with you if it doesn't want to), but taking undue advantage of that monopoly is. If (as it appears) nothing has changed but a desire to jack up prices, that would probably qualify. Given the regulations on pharmaceuticals, though, I'm not sure if or how the traditional antitrust rules apply to them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Why no generics?

          It's not a patent issue.

          When patents become a huge issue, not all that long ago, more than 50% of all prescriptions were written for patented drugs. Now only about 10% of all prescriptions are written for patented drugs, a number which has continued to drop and appears to be headed toward 5%. So the problem is now becoming cost effectiveness of production. Some drugs have such low annual usage that only one company is producing certain drugs, a very effective monopoly, leading to abuses far worse than were ever even contemplated by companies holding patents.

          I am amused by the irony that drugs prices can escalate beyond all sanity in the absence of patents, especially when so many people kept pushing for the abolishment of patents.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:42am

        Re: Re: Why no generics?

        The problem is low demand. Very few people take the drug, which likely only requires a batch per year. However, the high price may induce others to enter the market.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Why no generics?

          "The problem is low demand. Very few people take the drug," in the US... Add a few preservatives (they do that anyway) and export them to other countries.

          I'm pretty sure that selling a 20$ pill for 5$ in india beats having unsold inventory.

          As for the rest maybe, just maybe it's about f'ing time government did its job properly.

          Add incentives for companies who sell reasonably priced drugs to poor countries for example.

          But wait, that too is ... you guessed it ... everyone's favorite word ... SOCIALISM!!! So of course it will never happen.

          After all it's not like those countries are (thanks to, in no small part, the USA) effectively banned by various trade agreements from producing their own cheaper generics.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jraama, 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:07pm

      Re: Why no generics?

      I would not count on generic competition anytime soon, and possible not at all. The number of patients is low so volume would also be low.

      To put a generic on the market, you still need to make demo batches and conduct some amount of testing on those batches. And you still need to file an approval application with the FDA, wait for them to complete their review, and then have your site inspected. These things are more or less a fixed cost, and they take a few years to complete.

      By the time a new entrant is in the market and ready to sell a generic, Turing will have recouped their costs and will be able to complete on price. So there is very little incentive for another company to get in the market. It would be great for the patient population, but ultimately a loss for the generic maker.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:45am

    a totally anti American solution

    All pharmaceutical patents go to the state since the research was funded and overcharged to the taxpayer in the first place.

    Have the drug companies compete on price quality and support.

    That would kill a lot of the big pharmaceutical companies because they have outsourced all their manufacturing and laboratory support services thanks to FDA loosening regulations regarding subcontracting by big American pharmaceutical companies in the past decade or so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:07am

      Re: a totally anti American solution

      Socialist much? Do you think more government is the solution? The government in this case, is the problem by granting patents. Reduce or eliminate patents and problem is solved.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

        I don't think more government is the solution but I do think that government funded research should mean a government controlled patent. The cost for the drug should then be kept at the cost to manufacture the drug.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:15am

          Re: Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

          I think government funded research should mean no patent.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 11:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

            If we lived in a society that you couldn't patent already existing technology, I would agree. While technically I know that you aren't supposed to be able to get a patent in prior technology, it takes a lot of money and lawyers to fight bad patents. The best option is to patent it and then open the patent up so that it could be used by others.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

              In principle, I agree with both of you. Open source is the way to go here.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

          >>> All pharmaceutical patents go to the state since ...
          >> Socialist much? ... Reduce or eliminate patents and problem is solved.
          > ... government funded research should mean a government controlled patent.

          You ... DO realize, don't you, that patents are not at issue in this case? It's a captive market for a scarce commodity.

          This case is more like the market for VT100-compatible terminals. The only reason you'd use them is if a) it were critical to your need, and b) there wasn't an adequate alternative. Say, missile launch controls....

          And even then, you'd look for alternatives because the cost is unreasonably high. Modern display software. Alternative drugs to treat toxoplasmosis.

          And as the article points out, those solutions have their own problems: the original wasn't patent controlled, but the replacement might be.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:50pm

          Why is more government not the solution.

          I mean I get it. There's a lot of crap and corruption in our government...

          ...but when the choice is government meat inspection or no meat inspection, we choose government meat inspection.

          ...When the choice is a government highway system or no highway system, we choose a government highway system.

          Every market needs to be regulated or it's going to pull bullshit exactly like Turing is doing, and that's why we need government in the first place, to stop that stuff, or at least slow it down.

          And yes, we have problems when government gets to big, but I think that's a problem to be solved.

          Because having less government means having less cool stuff. And it means leaving the jackasses to prey on the weak unchecked.

          So yeah. More government, and more socialism isn't unamerican, it's progress. It's recognizing that unregulated capitalism has led us to $750 pills for HIV patients.

          Feel free to work out another solution if you don't want further regulations, but the alternative to doing something real and immediate is $750 pills for HIV patients.

          ...oh and Shkreli splashing around in his riches like Scrooge McDuck.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:08am

            Re: Why is more government not the solution.

            They don't care... THEY'RE NOT HIV PATIENTS...
            Don't you know that HIV is a GAY disease, well either that or they had sex out of wedlock.

            BTW that was sarcasm.

            I have absolutely nothing against consensual sex between adults.

            Then again I also believe that as a society we should help prop each other throughout the mistakes of life.

            Surely a McJob isn't worth the same amount as a top lawyer, but that person shouldn't have to starve or otherwise die of EASILY (and CHEAPLY) CURABLE diseases.

            But again, any kind of such program will be seen by many US people as... the dreaded ghost of socialism.

            BTW that was also sarcasm (not really).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:24pm

        Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

        Playing the Socialist card is ridiculous.

        Try some rational thought:
        What is the price for society and the sick to keep big pharma in profits?
        Why spend taxes to feed a corporate welfare addiction?

        One more thing to consider:
        One day you or someone you love may be in that hospital bed having the doctor tell you they'd like to help but unfortunately the insurance won't cover the cost...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:22am

          Re: Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

          Thank you. Socialists are widely believes to breathe oxygen. Must we give that up because "THEY" do it?

          We need to let go of the dog whistle politics; the sooner, the better.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:57pm

        Re: Re: a totally anti American solution

        Oversight is bad? That's what the CIA says to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

        Government is a neutral thing. How it acts is all that matters in so many things.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:45am

    a totally anti American solution

    All pharmaceutical patents go to the state since the research was funded and overcharged to the taxpayer in the first place.

    Have the drug companies compete on price quality and support.

    That would kill a lot of the big pharmaceutical companies because they have outsourced all their manufacturing and laboratory support services thanks to FDA loosening regulations regarding subcontracting by big American pharmaceutical companies in the past decade or so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:27am

    This is a call out to the Federal Trade Commission: it's time to do your job.

    I'd also nudge the Department of Justice as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:56am

    This isn't greed on the part of the pharmaceutical companies. They are simply trying to make their money back. What everyone is forgetting is that the people don't pay these drug prices, its the health insurance policies.

    It's no different than buying a comic book for $5 then turning around and reselling it for $50 when the value increases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:13am

      Re:

      Except nobody dies from not having a comic book.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      This isn't greed on the part of the pharmaceutical companies.


      Yes it is. This company, anyway.

      They are simply trying to make their money back.


      The company jacking up the price is not the one who developed the drug - which was developed over 60 years ago and has long since paid for its cost of development.

      What everyone is forgetting is that the people don't pay these drug prices, its the health insurance policies.


      Which means that we ALL pay for it, via increased premiums.

      It's no different than buying a comic book for $5 then turning around and reselling it for $50 when the value increases.


      When someone says they'll die if they don't get a copy of Superman #1, they aren't speaking literally.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:17pm

        Re: Re:

        I get the feeling they might get payment in the form of lead from people dying of cancer or relatives of people that died to cancer due to not being able to afford this treatment any longer.

        Grief makes people do irrational things

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      "They are simply trying to make their money back."

      This drug was on the market 60 years ago. They already made their money back, many times over.

      Tauring isn't a pharmaceutical company (at least not in this instance). It's an acquisition and licensing company. It basically bought the trademark name the drug is sold under, and only in the US.

      Next development in this story: people will start importing this drug from other countries where Tauring doesn't have the monopoly, and Tauring will sic ICE or some other government agency for-hire on them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:43am

      Re:

      So who do you think pays for these health insurance policies? You do, through your premiums. Or for Medicare/Medicaid, you do through your FICA taxes. But it's you that pays for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      "What everyone is forgetting is that the people don't pay these drug prices, its the health insurance policies."

      And who pays for those insurance policies?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      What everyone is forgetting is that the people don't pay these drug prices, its the health insurance policies.

      And where do the health insurance policies get their money?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:18am

    money for nothing

    An old trick is to find out if a particularly expensive drug is also used in veterinary medicine, especially for horses and livestock, in which case the human dose should be dirt-cheap when it's labeled and sold for livestock use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TDR, 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:34am

    And this is what happens when you have a for-profit medical system. Remove the profit incentive and everything changes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 10:44am

    A little background

    A little background into the subject might help.

    The drug in question Daraprim has never had more than about 15k total prescriptions in the US. Assuming a 1 pill per day regime, it means about 5 million pills a year. User count before the price increase was sitting at about 8000, according to figures I could find online, or about 2 million pills.

    It is also a drug that is slightly harder to make, store, and distribute as it is light and air sensitive and can quickly degrade.

    It is in fact a brand name generic drug, one that is sufficiently complex to make that few seem to have an interest, especially considering the size of the marketplace.

    The price increase does potentially offer up a chance for another company to come into the marketplace. However, short term that is very unlikely, it can take a year or more to get FDA approval to produce even a generic drug, especially one of this nature. Someone will likely try to move into the marketplace, but as this is a small market generic, it's likely they will still charges in the hundreds per pill to make it worth getting into the game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 11:56am

      "...Short term that is very unlikely..."

      ...it can take a year or more to get FDA approval to produce even a generic drug

      ...And in the meantime, people die.

      Capitalism only works when market forces are able to instantly respond to changes, which only happens in a narrow spectrum of commodities.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:14pm

      Re: A little background

      "A little background into the subject might help."

      That did help. It helped make me even angrier at this malfunctioning system that is causing real people real harm.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 1:48pm

      Re: A little background

      User count before the price increase was sitting at about 8000, according to figures I could find online, or about 2 million pills.

      ...which means, assuming that prescription volume doesn't change much (and assuming the new price actually sticks), that a $55M investment is going to yield a return of $1.5B/year. That's $1.5B of revenue, not profit, but supposing they were barely breaking even at $14/pill (which they weren't; they were making a profit, otherwise they wouldn't have been selling it), that works out to $30M/year in production costs. Negligible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 21 Sep 2015 @ 11:14am

    @ #3 a correction

    you said,"Turing Pharmaceuticals: Your Money or Your Life."

    it should read

    "Turing Pharmaceuticals: Your Money or AND Life."

    WHAT A DISGUSTING EVIL IMMORAL DRUG SYSTEM

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:20pm

    I am not sure why everyone is up in arms about this price increase. Sure $750 per pill is crazy, but the real travesty is that nobody was complaining at $14 per pill.

    A simple calculation of the stated numbers has someone needing 2-3 pills per day putting the old price at about $1000 per MONTH for a drug that I'm sure has a marginal cost to manufacture somewhere less than a penny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Craig Welch (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Marginal price

      What is the relevance of the marginal manufacturing cost?

      Far be it from me to defend price-gouging drug manufacturers, but there is far more than that one cost that has to be recovered. Even though they lie about development costs, there are development costs to be recouped, as well as the cost of marketing, insurance, legals, and many more.

      It's simplistic in the extreme to say that a drug should only cost a few pennies because that's all it costs to make it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Manabi (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 2:03pm

        Re: Re: Marginal price

        The medicine cost only $1 a pill several years ago (article isn't clear on how long ago that was), so it's pretty obvious the cost to manufacture here isn't very high. Certainly nowhere near $13 a pill, and not even in the same ballpark as $750 a pill. I won't claim every generic should cost pennies per pill, but this generic shouldn't be more than $1-$2 a pill.

        This company also has zero development costs to recoup, the medicine has been around since 1953. The guy says he's doing this to fund R&D into a new drug for the disease, but there's actually no demand or need for one. So that's probably a lie to try to justify the insane price gouging.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      "..the real travesty is that nobody was complaining at $14 per pill."

      Yep:

      "Only a few years ago, Daraprim cost only about $1 a tablet, but the drug’s price rose sharply after CorePharma acquired it."

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hedge-funder-buys-rights-to-drug-used-by-aids-p atients-and-raises-price-from-1350-to-750-per-pill-10511690.html

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:34pm

    Low-cost option

    I think more attention needs to be given to the "low cost" option. If the company is willing to charge $750 per pill, they're not going to give away free samples out of the goodness of their heart. Someone, somewhere, will be paying for this- if it's not the patient, it'll be the health insurance company... who will then pass this cost on to *all* their patients.

    Remember that insurance companies are in business to make money also, and their options for covering expenses like this are more limited since they can't legally drop people for having an expensive sickness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 12:35pm

    With an ethical as twisted as this ... what guarantees that these companies are not going to create and disseminate new diseases in pursuit of profit?
    Oh, wait ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 3:10pm

    These Corporate Criminals are getting a tad bit to comfortable , public lynchings anyone?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 21 Sep 2015 @ 3:33pm

    "Rothenberg defended Daraprim's price, saying that the company will use the money it makes from sales to further research treatments for toxoplasmosis." One word comment: BULLSHIT!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 21 Sep 2015 @ 4:11pm

    Here Piggy.... Pigggy.... Piggggy.....

    Martin Shkreli is an unethical fraction of a human being.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Corey, 21 Sep 2015 @ 4:53pm

    perfect example

    of why TPP and TTIP must not pass the fast track process.

    those two trade agreements would force this, on many other countries besides the USA. Like India where their patent law is more realistic. In India this kind of patent exploitation is not allowed. TPP would force India to adopt US style patent laws.

    especially in country's that simply outright can not afford that kind of jump in prices.

    I consider this a "crime against humanity" to exploit the sick in this manor.

    I have to wonder if this particular company is a front for a group focused on reducing the population and eliminating the "undesirables"

    Also, that claim of profits for research... Don't they already get grants and tax credits from organizations and governments to fund said research? meaning that they themselves are not actually footing the bill?

    forget the lynching. maybe we need to roundup the leaders of this company and inject them with the HIV virus and require them to pay the same rates or more based on what kind of wealth they have stashed away. That way they struggle just like the average person does. Then see if they have a change of heart about how much they charge.

    Also the price set is NOT suppose to go for other research it is suppose to be bound to the product purchased (service paid for service rendered). Not (pay for services not rendered)

    I think they need to re-implement the 300% profit cap again that they had in the 80's for any goods or services charged.

    I think they need to modify patent law and make it so patents can not be transferred. it can only expire.

    purpose of patent was to allow original creator a short term monopoly, so they could be rewarded for the effort of bring a new service or product to society. Before others were allowed to tweek or modify the original design.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 5:52pm

    I already told you! If you can't afford it, you don't deserve it!

    Silly pirates being silly again. If you aren't willing to spend the money, you don't get to have medicine. Simple as that. What a piratey hoot you are!


    Attempt # 20! Masnick doesn't like it when corporations are paid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 7:55pm

    This kind of thing should be 100% illegal.

    Too bad that no one has the balls to say "Lower the price or lose your business licence in the U.S."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 8:20pm

    I saw a comment on reddit that I'd like to paraphrase here in response to this move.

    Insurance companies should just start reimbursing for the flight to/from India (or other cheap-drug country) which will cost less per person than paying for this drug in the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2015 @ 9:55pm

    Now all they need to do is create a cancer weapon that affects groups of people at once and they have a guaranteed profit maker.

    As the cancer gun only affects a single target at a time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Sep 2015 @ 11:28pm

    The truly sick thing is there are many drugs out there that have "little" call for them, although the people who need them will die without them.
    There are hundreds of odd little diseases that no one is funding research into because it can't be profitable, letting people die.

    We keep expecting these corporations to suddenly have a heart and do the right thing, how are we still this delusional?
    We need to offer prize money for treatments being developed.
    We need to then have a public benefit network of producers who create the pills and are allowed a tidy profit.
    Some will balk at that idea, but what if finding the treatment/cure for a disease that only affects a few thousand people globally leads to something that can benefit even more people?
    There is hardly any real research done in these areas, it is all focused on the next hot thing to keep the big bucks flowing in from treatments for ED, Diabetes, Heart Disease, and other problems we see advertised daily in the US.
    We can't force them to work for the public good, but perhaps we should put our outrage to work on a real solution. I'd rather pray for this system to happen than for a CEO to suddenly get a heart and decide that benefiting the world matters more than his gold plated ass warmer.

    This asshat is only doing what the system allows, and his money means he'll keep being able to do it because he can just buy the influence to protect his interests for a fairly low price (history of campaign "contributions" vs the billions that influence rakes in goes here).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    voiceofReason (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 4:04am

    A second look

    Although this seems on its face to be outrageous, what about all the drugs whose costs have NOT been recouped? Do you assume all drugs make outrageous profits, or is a company supposed to price a drug without considering all other costs the company bears, such as for R&D for the much larger majority of drugs that failed along the path to approval, or even after approval?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:12am

    Vote with your wallet!

    Wait...

    ...that's the problem with monopolies. Get patents off drugs NOW!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dan (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:34am

    Update

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bri (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 12:36pm

    Seeing the future

    https://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/2g43kw/a_generic_drug_company_retrophin_buys_up_the/ckg20en

    Wa s just reading more up on reddit, and user GarryMcMahon pointed out that about a year ago Shkreli was on reddit talking about this issue. Some people used the remindme bot to remind them a year later about it, predicting the storm this turned into. Turns out they were a 10 days off in their predictions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 6:43pm

    That's fucking disgusting. I almost threw up reading this in my RSS feed and I got none of these diseases. Just give em some Seconal and morphine and let them die then. We need a new Dr.Kevorkian.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Uriel238 on his damn phone, 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:12pm

      For Tim.

      "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TriSongz, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:17pm

    We need to open-source pharma patents

    While this happening is indeed quite tragic for the millions of people that it will effect, the real case in point is that there's nothing that prevents a scenario like this from happening again.

    I write about it a bit more extensively at the link below, but we need to address this issue in a way that cannot rely on government intervention because the chances of it happening are slim to none. Rather, we need to find a way to open-source these pharma patents to allow many manufacturers to compete on the same level, and while they're still able to make profits, the competition with supply and demand would drive the cost of these drugs way down, benefiting ultimately everyone.

    http://www.pixelrocketapps.com/lets-open-source-drug-patents-to-avoid-pharma-trolls/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NFW, 23 Sep 2015 @ 6:01am

    We need to thank Shkreli

    Before this story broke, how many people knew the practice of buying rights to low-use, low-priced drugs then jacking up prices was so common? Perhaps now that we know - AND AS LONG AS WE HIGHLIGHT THAT THIS AFFECTS EVERYBODY'S INSURANCE PREMIUMS - Congress, etc. will impose limitations.

    Yea, Right . . . I'm not counting on that either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NFW, 23 Sep 2015 @ 7:30am

    We need to thank Shkreli

    Before this story broke, how many people knew the practice of buying rights to low-use, low-priced drugs then jacking up prices was so common? Perhaps now that we know - AND AS LONG AS WE HIGHLIGHT THAT THIS AFFECTS EVERYBODY'S INSURANCE PREMIUMS - Congress, etc. will impose limitations.

    1) Yea, Right . . . I'm not counting on that either.
    2) It pains me to suggest that the Federal Government should control a company's profit margins, but douches like Shkerli, and his excesses must be reined in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JF (profile), 23 Sep 2015 @ 12:53pm

    Why

    Actually I just read an article (I can't remember which tech site now) which said Shkreli typically shorts pharma stocks. So it is highly likely he is playing both sides. Short pharma stocks, buy up the drug, hike the price, and reap profits from the stock dip and increased income.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 5:40pm

    That greedy prick doesn't even look 30, which helps explain the entitled mentality. And his Twitter account is protected now, so you have to request permission to follow him. Apparently he likes being a prick, but doesn't like being called one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BeldansFire (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 9:57am

    Swipe left

    looks like Shkreli's tinder matches even call him out on this. Granted it could be fake but its funny nonetheless
    http://cheezburger.com/8572140288/hook-up-of-the-day-girl-matches-with-that-dude-who-uppe d-the-price-on-the-life-saving-aids-drug-by?ref=kymhottoday

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rhonda, 27 Oct 2015 @ 3:19pm

    never give up

    Never give up because you are HIV Positive visit: http://drodiaherbalisthome.webs.com/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 11:12am

    I bought 4 tablets of Albenza a year ago at my family's urging. The $12.00 tablets
    had been removed from the shelves of every pharmacy around. I paid c. $750.00.
    The drug does nothing to cure the parasite.

    Doc should have done the research.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Craig Welch (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      Why would you want to cure the parasites? Wouldn't you want to kill them?

      Surely the objective is to cure the patient who has parasites. Albenza does cure some parasite related infections.

      What research should your doctor have done that s/he did not?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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