Turing Pharmaceuticals has announced plans to supply hospitals with Daraprim at discounts of up to 50%, but will not lower the list price of the toxoplasmosis treatment.
“A drug’s list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access,” Nancy Retzlaff, chief commercial officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, said in a press release. “Combined with our robust patient access programs, this is an important step in our commitment to ensure ready access to Daraprim at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost for both hospitals and patients.”
Carlos del Rio
In a statement released after the announcement, Carlos del Rio, MD, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and chair of the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), said Turing’s discount does not address patients outside of the hospital who may need pyrimethamine for as many as 12 months.
Acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals on Aug. 10, Daraprim (pyrimethamine) saw a price increase from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet, according to IDSA and HIVMA. As many as 164 health organizations and individuals called on Turing to increase access to pyrimethamine, and plans to revise the treatment’s pricing were confirmed by Turing’s CEO Martin Shkreli.
The company will offer price cuts up to 50% off the list price for hospitals treating toxoplasmosis, according to a press release, along with free sample starter packages to “ensure physicians treating patients … have free and immediate access to start therapy in emergency situations.” These new plans will accompany the pharmaceutical company’s previous accessibility commitments, which include participation in federal and state insurance programs and a Patient Assistance Program providing the treatment to uninsured patients with income at or below 500% of the federal poverty level, the release said.
“Physicians, patients, hospitals and patient advocacy groups have told us time and time again that we need to keep patients’ out-of-pocket costs low, have patient assistance programs in place and ensure hospitals can afford to stock Daraprim for treatment of the most vulnerable patients,” Retzlaff said in the release. “By providing affordable access for hospitals and reaffirming our commitment that nearly all patients will receive Daraprim for $10 or less out-of-pocket per prescription, that’s what we have done.”
In its statement, HIVMA’s del Rio said the discount offered by Turing is not enough.
“While Turing continues to promise that all patients who need Daraprim have access to it, physicians will be forced to continue looking for less expensive alternative therapies for their patients with toxoplasmosis,” he said. “We urge Turing to return the price of this medication to a level comparable to its price prior to the August increase and to offer pricing parity across settings to truly ensure all patients who need it have access.”
Pyrimethamine is part of first-line and alternate treatment regimens for the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The drug was approved by the FDA in 1953 and is often necessary, along with a sulfonamide and leucovorin, to treat toxoplasmosis patients with conditions that compromise their immune systems such as HIV.
Disclosure: Shkreli and Retzlaff are paid employees for Turing Pharmaceuticals.