Former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli has purchased the rights to AIDS drug and hiked AIDS pill cost by 5,500 overnight from $13.50 per tablet to $750 now will lower the price.
A former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, 32, the founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, is under fire for increasing the price of the drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent said Tuesday he will lower the cost of the life-saving medication.
Martin Shkreli did not say what the new price would be, but expected a determination to be made over the next few weeks.
He told NBC News that the decision to lower the price was a reaction to outrage over the increase in the price of the drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
Martin Shkreli purchased the rights to Daraprim for $55 million on the same day that Turing announced it had raised $90 million from Shkreli and other investors in its first round of financing according to the New York Times.
Daraprim is used for treating toxoplasmosis — an opportunistic parasitic infection that can cause serious or even life-threatening problems in babies and for people with compromised immune systems like AIDS patients and certain cancer patients — that sold for slightly over $1 a tablet several years ago. Prices have increased as the rights to the drug have been passed from one pharmaceutical company to the next, but nothing like the almost 5,500 percent increase since Shkreli acquired it.
Worrying that the cost of treatment could devastate some patients, Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai asked, “What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?”
According to Shkreli, Turing will use the money it earns to develop better treatments for toxoplasmosis, with fewer side effects.
“This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business,” Shkreli explained, saying that many patients use the drug for far less than a year and that the new price is similar to other drugs used for rare diseases.
Shrkeli also defended his small pharmaceutical company saying, “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this.”
This is not the first time the fledgling pharmaceutical executive has come under scrutiny.
In 2011, Shkreli helped form Retrophin, which also acquired old drugs and immediately raised their prices. Retrophin’s board fired Shkreli a year ago and has filed a complaint in Federal District Court, accusing him of using Retrophin as a personal fund to pay back angry investors in his hedge fund.