The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that caused a global outcry this week after buying the rights to a drug used to treat AIDS patients and then increasing the cost by 5000%, has announced that he will reduce the increase so that it remains affordable for patients.
Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund investor, caused a firestorm of controversy after his company acquired the rights to life-saving drug Daraprim last month and then raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750 – despite the fact that it costs just $1 to produce.
The move sparked a backlash around the world, and was denounced by US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who described the price hike as “outrageous”.
Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on. -H https://t.co/9Z0Aw7aI6h
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 21, 2015
Daraprim is used mainly to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection that can cause life-threatening problems for babies born to women who become infected during pregnancy, and also for people with compromised immune systems, like AIDS patients and certain cancer patients.
Shkreli had previously defended the price rise, saying the company were only making a “reasonable” profit on the drug and that it was “not excessive at all”. However, after receiving an onslaught of abuse on social media and receiving a joint letter from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association calling the hike “unjustifiable”, he appears to have reversed his position.
Speaking to ABC World News Tonight on Tuesday (September 22), the pharmaceutical boss – who has been dubbed ‘the most hated man in America’ since the story first broke – said: “We’ve agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit, and we think these changes will be welcome.”
He has since put all of his social media accounts on private.
The final cost is yet to be decided, but will be less than the current $750 a pill. Hillary meanwhile, responded to the news with a single word: “Good”.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 22, 2015