Drug CEO and Internet Villain Is at It Again

Company goes back on promise to lower drug price after jacking it 5,000%
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2015 3:44 PM CST

(Newser) – Former-hedge-fund-manager-turned-Internet-villain Martin Shkreli and his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, are back in the news this week, months after raising the price of a 62-year-old drug by 5,000% and then promising to maybe not actually do that, Ars Technica reports. But it turns out Turing won't be lowering the cost of Daraprim from its current price of $750 per pill after all, according to an announcement from the company Tuesday. Instead, the pill—which fights infection in HIV patients, among others—will be offered half-off to hospitals, come in smaller bottles, and be free for some poor patients, according to Ars Technica. "This is an important step in our commitment to ensure ready access to Daraprim at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost," one Turing executive says in a press release. "No patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access."

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Not everyone is impressed. The New York Times notes that those measures are industry standard for expensive medications and simply pass increased costs along to taxpayers. And the chairman of the HIV Medicine Association tells the Times that even with the discounts, "they are still pricing it way above what the price of the medication should be." “This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig,” one director at an AIDS organization says. Turing acquired Daraprim in August and immediately jacked up the price from the previous amount of $13.50 per pill. That move earned Shkreli a wave of bad press, cost him his punk friends, and started a feud with Bernie Sanders. Turing is currently being investigated by lawmakers for alleged "price gouging," according to Ars Technica. (Read more Martin Shkreli stories.)

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