Turing Pharmaceuticals AG will not reverse its decision to raise the price of a decades-old drug, Daraprim, by more than 5,000 percent, backing out of previous statements that it would cut the cost by the end of the year.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the company said that the list price of Daraprim, which jumped from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill earlier this year, will not change. Instead, the company will offer hospitals up to 50 percent discounts and will make other adjustments to help patients afford Daraprim, a drug used to treat a parasitic infection and often given to HIV patients.
“We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access,” Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, said in a news release. She added that “drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry. A drug’s list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access.”
Earlier this month, the company said that it planned to modestly reduce prices amid intense backlash from the public and health experts over the initial price hike. However, at the time, the company and its CEO, Martin Shkreli, were mum about exactly how much the price would go down.
With the price standing, Turing will offer additional money-saving measures such as new, smaller bottles with only 30 tablets, helping to reduce the costs for hospitals to stock the medicine. The company will also offer zero-cost starter samples and, for commercially insured patients, co-payments of no more than $10 a prescription. For uninsured patients at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty level, the company will offer the drug for free.
In an e-mail to The New York Times, Tim Horn, HIV project director for the AIDS research and policy organization Treatment Action Group, said: “This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig.”
Turing is currently under investigation by lawmakers over what some have referred to as price gouging.