Turing Pharmaceuticals Defiant, Won’t Lower Drug’s Price
November 30, 2015
Despite being under congressional investigation for price-gouging, Turing pharmaceuticals will not lower the price of Daraphim, a drug given to AIDS patients. The revelation came as a surprise to industry watchers because of the severity of the backlash to their increase in price of Daraphim earlier this year. Turing became a lightning rod and the subject of political talking points when they raised the price of the life saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.
Daraphim is a medication that is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a disorder caused by a parasite which can be found in cat feces. It can cause serious birth defects and complications to pregnancy, including miscarriage. People with compromised immune systems like AIDs patients or certain cancer patients are vulnerable to this infection and are often prescribed Daraphim. Drug costs have been a featured component of the presidential race this year because of nation wide price increases of 13%, a number not matched in over a decade.
Turing has announced that they will offer hospital discounts and other “adjustments” to help maintain access and affordability to patients in need. In an incredible sleight-of-hand press release the communications director for Turing released a statement explaining that:
“drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry. [And that a] drug’s list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access.”
The statement was an attempt to deny any connection to price increases that trickle down to the consumer. In this “complex” industry, hospitals or insurance companies would be to blame if they adjust their policies limiting access or increasing copays. What Turing did not say was that the manufacturing cost or efficacy of any drug has no impact on its price. Nor is any money spent on research and development because Daraphim was developed 62 years ago. The reason the price increase is such a major problem, despite the lapse of the patent’s exclusivity, is that no drug manufacturer is producing a generic version. Without any comparable alternatives doctors will be forced to prescribe Daraphim, despite the burden of cost placed on the payer and patient, or resort to potentially less effective treatments.
Turing Pharmaceuticals is essentially doubling down on a price increase that created extreme public backlash, political condemnation resulting in a US Senate investigation, and could force parts of the industry into financial hardships that result in worse outcomes for patients. Tim Horn, a project director of the prominent AIDs policy and research organization Treatment Action Group said:
“This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig.”