Infectious disease physicians and advocates are in outrage as the decades-old drug Daraprim increases in price overnight from $13.50 per tablet to $750.00 per tablet. Daraprim, the common name for the drug pyrimethamine, is the only medication for treating toxoplasmosis, an infection contracted from cat parasites that can cause birth defects. It is also a co-treatment for HIV infections, some cancers, and malaria.
The rights to Daraprim were recently purchased in August by a company named Turing Pharmaceuticals. Doctors and advocates wrote a letter to the drug company urging them to reconsider their price increase, as it raises the cost of treatment to as much as $634,500 annually. “This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient in need of this medication, “the letter said, “and unsustainable for the health care system.” Turing Pharmaceuticals claims the drug is not overpriced compared to its peers was unprofitable at the former price. They stated that the drug will now return what they consider to be a reasonable profit, not excessive at all, and the additional money will allow them to develop newer, better drugs.
Daraprim is part of recent trend in increasing costs among older pharmaceuticals where drug companies purchase the rights to an older, neglected drug and attempt to turn it into a high priced specialty drug. This is a frequent occurrence in the cost of drugs for rare diseases because competition in the particular field is so small. Drug companies often reset the prices when they purchase these drugs because they now have a monopoly on the most common treatment for a given disease.
Companies like Turing Pharmaceuticals attempt to appear understanding and offer discount programs to patients who struggle to pay the new increased price. However, these programs are often very complicated to register for and are not a sustainable source of assistance for patients who require taking the medication long term. Research for generic drugs that require a lesser out-of-pocket expense has been growing in recent years, but mainly in drugs that are taken for more common, widespread illnesses like heart disease, high cholesterol, and blood pressure regulation. The cost necessary to research generic drug options for rare diseases is not something drug companies are interested in paying, especially when little to no competition exists for their current, brand-name product.
Pharmaceutical companies who control drugs for rare diseases claim that the patients who need their products are their highest priority. But dramatic price increases in Daraprim and uncommon drugs like it leave physicians and patients alike questioning the true motive behind the action. To learn more about the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals and the likelihood of this action to continue in the future, contact Thomas Law Offices for more information.