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From hepatitis C medication to cholesterol treatments, the price of new pharmaceutical drugs has shot up in the past few years.
But one price hike on a 62-year-old medication has left more people in a lurch than usual.
That’s because the drug Daraprim, which is used to fight parasitic infections made a 5,455% jump in price, from $13.50 a pill to $750.
And it’s putting the pressure on those pharmaceutical and biotech companies that have been raising prices.
On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted out the news of the Daraprim price hike, expressing her intent to address the issue:
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 to prevent malaria and treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that’s especially dangerous to the unborn children of pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS and patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The parasite associated with toxoplasmosis affects 60 million Americans, according to the CDC. Daraprim is the only FDA approved medication to treat toxoplasmosis, though most healthy people who are infected can recover without treatment.
In August, the drug startup Turing Pharmaceuticals, which launched in February, acquired the US marketing rights to Daraprim from Impax Laboratories for $55 million. The drug was originally developed by GlaxoSmithKline, and approved by the FDA in 1953.
Almost immediately, Turing bumped up the price.
On September 8, medical groups Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) wrote a joint letter to Turing urging them to reverse their pricing strategy. They cited incidents of hospitals not having access to the medication, and concerns that lack of access could be fatal.