NEW YORK — The pharmaceutical company that increased the price of a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients 5,000% is slashing the price it will charge hospitals.
Turing Pharmaceuticals said it will offer hospitals Daraprim at up to 50 percent off the list price. It said hospitals are the first to treat 80% of patients who have toxoplasmosis encephalitis, the most common form of toxoplasmosis in the United States.
The move comes after Turing CEO Martin Shkreli said the company would lower the costs for patients after it raised its list price from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.
“We’ve agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a price that is more affordable,” Shkreli told ABC World News Tonight in September.
Still, even a 50% discount would only bring the price for hospitals down to $375 a pill.
Turing also said it would offer smaller bottles of 30 tablets to make it easier and cheaper for hospitals to carry the drug, and free sample packages for doctors needing to treat patients in emergency situations.
“We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access,” said Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, in a statement.
While Turing is dropping the price for hospitals, it is not reducing the list price of Daraprim because that would not help patients, Retzlaff said.
Healthcare professionals and patients had told the company it needs to keep out-of-pocket costs low, offer patient assistance programs and make Daraprim available for hospitals to treat the most vulnerable patients, she said.
“By providing affordable access for hospitals and reaffirming our commitment that nearly all patients will receive Daraprim for $10 or less out-of-pocket per prescription, that’s what we have done.”
The initial price increase caused a public outcry. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous.”
The Daily Beast declared Shkreli “the most-hated man in America.”
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, which the Mayo Clinic indicates is a disease caused by one of the world’s most common parasites. Toxoplasmosis causes flu-like symptoms in patients.