Pharmaceuticals

America’s Real Drug Problem

In August, a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the marketing rights for a life-saving off-patent drug and promptly hiked its price by some 5,000%. Turing's move, and the subsequent outcry, highlights one of the US health-care system's great faults: profits can be – and often are – placed ahead of people.

ANN ARBOR – No doctor can forget his or her first patient with toxoplasmosis, a harrowing parasitic infection found in people with compromised immune systems, such as patients with advanced HIV/AIDS. After infecting one’s organs and brain, it causes an altered mental state, fever, shaking chills, and seizures. Left untreated, it can lead to death in as little as one week.

A life-saving treatment – marketed in the United States under the name Daraprim (pyrimethamine) – has been available for more than 60 years. But recent developments have threatened to make it unaffordable. In August, a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the marketing rights for the drug and promptly hiked the price of a pill from $13.50 to $750. In addition to raising worries about the drug’s availability, the move exposes one of the great flaws of the US health-care system: profits can be – and often are – placed ahead of people.

Turing’s CEO, Martin Shkreli, was quickly vilified in the media, including in a Facebook post by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His response was uncompromising. In a Twitter exchange, he called a journalist “a moron,” and described the price hike as “a great business decision that also benefits all of our stakeholders.”

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/b8fZRt2;

Handpicked to read next