Published On: Sat, Oct 24th, 2015

Drugmaker offers $1 rival to $750 pill that sparked outrage

Outcry renewed prolonged debate over soaring drug prices in US which has no regulations to keep costs low

Maney,   pills health illustration pharmaceutical-drugs

 

A California, San Diego-based drugmaker Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, is offering a $1 rival to a prescription drug solely supplied by Turing Pharmaceuticals, whose 5, 000 percent price hike last month sparked outrage in the United States.

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals said Thursday it is offering a combination of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in an oral capsule for physicians to prescribe as a low-cost alternative to Turing’s Daraprim, which fights a parasitic infection.

Imprimis said it would offer its alternative capsule starting as low as $99.00 for a 100-count bottle, a tick less than $1 each.

Last month, Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, the sole supplier of Daraprim,  increased the price of this prescription drug from $13.50 per tablet to a reported $750.00 per tablet.

The FDA-approved label for Daraprim indicates that it is prescribed for toxoplasmosis and other types of infections.  Toxoplasmosis can be of major concern for patients with weakened immune systems such as patients with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women and children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pyrimethamine works to block folic acid synthesis in the parasite T. gondii, the cause of toxoplasmosis, and leucovorin helps to reverse the negative effects on bone marrow caused by this mechanism of action.

Mark L. Baum, CEO of Imprimis stated, “It is indisputable that generic drug prices have soared recently.  While we have seen an increase in costs associated with regulatory compliance, recent generic drug price increases have made us concerned and caused us to take positive action to address an opportunity to help a needy patient population.

“While we respect Turing’s right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim, for patients, physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to consider.

“This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug – especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim – has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable.”

In response to this recent case and others that we will soon identify, Imprimis is forming a new program called Imprimis Cares which is aligned to our corporate mission of making novel and customizable medicines available to physicians and patients today at accessible prices.”

Mr. Baum added, “Today, some drug prices are simply out of control and we believe we may be able to help control costs by offering compounded alternatives to several sole source legacy generic drugs. Imprimis Cares and its team of compounding pharmacists will work with physicians and their patients to ensure they have affordable access to the medicines they need from the over 7, 800 generic FDA-approved drugs.”

Turing’s Shkreli said, amid the public anger over the Daraprim hike, that the company would lower its price, but in response to an AFP query Friday, it did not say what the new price would be.

Shares in Imprimis surged 17.4 percent, closing at $7.01 on the Nasdaq.

 

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