OPINION BY JESSIE SPANGLER
Daraprim is pill that is usually given to treat patients with acute malaria, toxoplasmosis (an infection caused by a parasite), HIV/AIDS and certain cancer patients. Its price has recently been changed from $13.50 per pill to an inflated $750 per pill.
Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing (the company that owns Daraprim), claims the sudden 5,000 percent increase is because the company will use the profit from the medication and funnel it into research in order to try and improve it.
But Daraprim is already an effective treatment. What it needs is to be made into a more affordable medication and not have patients pay thousands of dollars to contribute to Turing’s profit. Medication is expensive enough as it is, and Daraprim’s price hike is a prime example of what is wrong with our healthcare system. Treating patients who need Daraprim would cost thousands of dollars for clinics and insurance companies as well. All around, it was not a smart decision on Shkreli’s part.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group, tweeted “TuringPharma does not represent the values of @PhRMA member companies” in response to the anger caused by the sharp increase in Daraprim’s price.
The high price of the life-saving medication is unsustainable for the health care system, and many hospitals and pharmacies are no longer able to stock Daraprim. For the 2,000 Americans who rely on this drug every year, it’s causing a lot of trouble since the drug is now harder to access and even more difficult to avoid. Federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are struggling to find a way to pay for the drug, as are many private health insurance companies.
Daraprim is the only medication of its kind—there are no generic brands, which means any company can buy exclusive marketing rights and up the price as much as they want. It is basically being treated as if it is a new drug on the market, even though it has been around for 62 years. Turing is raising the price strictly for profit. While other medications have other generic brands that help lower prices and encourage competition, Daraprim has no other contenders.
Because of what happened to Daraprim, other companies will likely follow in Turing’s steps and increase the price of their drugs. The best thing we can do as consumers is become aware of the problem. We have to start paying attention to the cost of medication and ask ourselves if it’s fair or not. What happened to Daraprim’s price is definitely not fair—especially when it used to cost only a dollar a pill a few years ago.
In response to the criticism, Turing has said it will create special programs to donate the drug to those who can’t afford it and create special payment-assistance programs. Shkreli has also agreed to “lower the price of Daraprim to a price that is more affordable.”
If Turing doesn’t lower the price, they’re going to have to make a lot of donations.