Turing Pharma Becomes Political Football, Donald Trump Weighs In
Published: Sep 25, 2015
September 24, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
NEW YORK – Martin Shkreli, chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, and that company’s decision to raise the price of a recently acquired drug by approximately 5,000 percent, remains a talking point for presidential politics and is prompting some members of Congress to call for a Congressional investigation.
On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump also weighed in on Shkreli, telling reporters in South Carolina that he thought the increase was disgusting and expressed a negative opinion of Shkreli, according to a report in The Hill. Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, is the first Republican candidate to publicly decry the Turing CEO.
Earlier this week, the price increase drew the ire of Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, who said if elected she would seek to implement a price cap on prescription medicines of $250 to avoid “price gouging.” Clinton’s comments caused numerous biotech stocks to fall an average of 2 percent. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index dropped 4.4 percent and the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF dropped by 6 percent.
In August, Turing acquired Daraprim, a drug used to treat the parasitic Toxoplasmosis, from IMPAX Laboratories for $55 million. The company increased the price of the drug from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet, an increase of about 5,000 percent. The price increase caused a public outcry form consumers and politicians. Some elected officials, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, are calling for Shkreli to testify before Congress.
Cummings is also urging Congress to hold hearings on the rising costs of prescription drugs. This week Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called for a hearing to investigate the increase of Daraprim, as well as other prescription medications that have shot up in price, he said in a letter. Cummings said the committee agreed at the beginning of this Congressional session, to investigate the increasing prices of certain prescription drugs, but has yet to do so.
Since the public outcry, Turing has said it will lower the price increase for Daraprim, but did not say what the new price will be.
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasite that threatens those who have compromised immune systems, such as cancer and HIV patients, as well as pregnant women. The drug is used by about 2,000 people in the United States annually for an average period of about six to 12 weeks.
When Turing acquired the drug, Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said the funds from the price increase would be used to subsidize new research into treatments for toxoplasmosis.
Will the Presidential Election Change the Face of the Way Prescription Drugs are Sold in the United States?
Although Turing Pharmaceuticals announced it will revise its 5,000 percent increase of a newly acquired drug to treat toxoplasmosis, the move sparked a public outcry that resulted in one presidential candidate calling for price caps on prescription medication.
In August, Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim from Impax Laboratories and increased the price of the medication from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet, a 5,000 percent increase. Turing Chief Executive Officer Martin Shkreli defended the increase, saying the revenues would be used to subsidize new research into treatments for toxoplasmosis. Has since said the company will reduce the price, but did not specify what the price would be.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said if elected she would cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $250 to avoid “price gouging.” Her comment sent the stock market into a state of flux, with several large companies seeing a drop in their stock of up to 10 percent. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index dropped 4.4 percent and the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF dropped by 6 percent.
BioSpace wants to know what you think: Will the presidential election change the face of the way prescription drugs are sold in the United States?