I was getting ready to go to bed tonight and I read an absurd story.
An ex-hedge fund manager CEO named Martin Shkreli bought a drug called Daraprim with his company Turing Pharmaceuticals and raised the price from $13.50 to $750 overnight (NYT). So my first thoughts is this is absurd and terrible and yet another insane pricing in American medicine. It costs only 45 cents in Canada.
But, the more absurd part of this story is this is a 62 year old medication called pyrimethamine which is a major antimalarial drug around the world and one also used for Taxomplasmosis would not be generic cheaply. It’s used a lot around the world in places like Africa where malaria can affect more than 25% of the population and HIV/AIDS 15%. It’s used by anyone traveling around the world and is available cheaply. I just checked online and it’s 45 cents in Canada per pill. Why would we have a pharmacutical infrastructure where a company can determine all pills can go through Walgreens Speciality Pharmacy like Turing Pharmaceuticals does for this medication. I guess it is used less for malaria know since it is a very, very old drug, here is some interesting information on it’s medical usage.
There are people committing rampant and obvious fraud throughout America and the world now. Martin Shkreli is one of them. It would be easy to fix this pricing problem overnight. Simply allow the medication to be filled via Canada and say that Turing Pharmaceuticals isn’t allow to sell the drug in America. Also, it’s time to have a look at ending the monopoly system in American drugs. There is no reason an old drug should be able to have a monopoly like this. And watch the interview in this Raw Story post, this guy is an incredible a**h**e. There is also a good Daily Beast post about it.
But, the larger story, is that the American Medical system allows price gouging and monopolies in pharmaceuticals. It pretty much encourages it. Our health care system could be so much cheaper if we took out all the incentive for enormous profits. There is a reason drug companies feel like they can spend billions on marketing to doctors and patients. It’s because they can.
Here is some more information about toxoplasmosis from the CDC. Gertrude B. Elion deserved the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988 for the amazing drugs she helped discover. Don’t mar her legacy due to some young CEO with more greed than sense.