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Martin Shkreli Lowers the Price of AIDS Drug for Patients, Gouges Insurance Companies

“Martin Shkreli is not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes.”

Photo via (cc) Flickr user jedilady2

For the past few months, GOOD has followed the story of Martin Shkreli, the former hedge-fund CEO, whose pharmaceutical company bought the rights to Daraprim, a life-saving AIDS drug, and raised its price from $13.50 a pill to an unconscionable $750. According to Shkreli, “The drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money.” After worldwide public outrage, Shkreli backed down and vowed that his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, would lower the price of the drug. “We’ve agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a point that is more affordable,” Shkreli said, “and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit.”

Contrary to Shkreli’s promise, yesterday Turing Pharmaceuticals announced that it wouldn’t decrease the drug’s list price. According to AP, “Instead, the small biotech company is reducing what it charges hospitals, by up to 50 percent, for its parasitic infection treatment, Daraprim. Most patients’ copayments will be capped at $10 or less a month. But insurers will be stuck with the bulk of the $750 tab.” So, although some patients will get a price break, it’s a shell game that sticks insurers with the tab, raising the cost of treatment for everyone.

“Martin Shkreli is not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. But according to Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, “No patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access.” She adds that “a drug’s list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access.” Tim Horn, HIV project director for the AIDS research and policy organization Treatment Action Group, thinks differently: “This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig.”

(H/T ars technica)

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