In the news recently is the story of a man, Martin Shkreli, 32, who started Turing Pharmaceuticals. Turing purchased the North American marketing rights to Daraprim and did change the price drastically.
A few things to clarify:
1. The drug is not for AIDS. The drug is a cure for a disease called toxoplasmosis, whereby those who need it only have to take it for a certain limited time and the symptoms are often either non-existent or periodically flu-like according to this, wheereas AIDS patients need to take their drugs for the rest of their lives. People with AIDS are susceptible to getting it (but may never even encounter it), but the drug is not for the treatment of AIDS itself.
2. About half of the new sales of the drug price was dropped from $13.50 to ONE DOLLAR, as stated directly by the CEO himself, and the other half are up over $700. For some reason, people seem to be focusing specifically on the outrage for the increase, but not lauding him for lowering the price down to a single dollar, for people who need it. There’s more than one reason to sell a drug, instead of specifically directly to patients for treatment.
The New York Times recently published an article that stirred up much of the controversy — and it even goes on to embed a CNBC video interview with Shkreli himself, as if it were a source.
Strangely enough, that source very clearly observes that the drug is not an HIV/AIDS medication, but treats a specific parasitic infection called toxplasmosis, which some AIDS patients get. To call this an “AIDS drug” would be the same level of absurd as calling an wooden spoon a “scalp injury device” since they’re used in this common prank game — when in reality, only some people use wooden spoons to hit people over the head, but that’s not what it’s even made for. The drug cures a specific parasitic disease, and people with auto-immune disorders like AIDS can contract it, but the drug itself does not treat AIDS.
A flu treatment, for instance, is also not an AIDS drug, even though people who have AIDS can get the flu. If they need to take a flu treatment, they would be treating the flu, not treating AIDS. Likewise, people take the drug whose price “skyrocketed” are taking it to specifically to treat toxomplasmosis, not to treat AIDS.
For some reason very little emphasis is made on the fact that the same Turing Pharmaceuticals company also offers the drug for one single dollar, down from $13.50 as before. That would mean your medication bill could be reduced from $405 for a 30-pill supply, down to just $30 — and that’s really good news for people who need it. But, perhaps the outrage just makes for better news.