Infectious disease specialists are protesting a huge overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug used to treat a life-threatening parasitic infection.
The drug, Daraprim, was acquired last month by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager, which immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, The New York Times reported.
That brings the annual cost of treatment to hundreds of thousands of dollars
“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Judith Aberg, M.D., the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”
In recent months, critics have slammed pharmaceutical companies high prices on new drugs for diseases like cancer, hepatitis C, and high cholesterol, as well as older drugs, some of them generic.
Although some price increases have been caused by shortages, others have resulted from a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced “specialty drugs,” The Times reports.