September 23, 2015
2 min read

Turing Pharmaceuticals confirms repricing of Daraprim

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A representative for Turing Pharmaceuticals today confirmed plans to reprice Daraprim following attention from health care providers, expert organizations and the media.

“Turing’s CEO Martin Shkreli has committed to adjusting the price of Daraprim, but there is no timetable as to when that will occur or at what price point,” Allan Ripp, who represents the drugmaker, told Infectious Disease News.

Public focus shifted to Turing after the price of the recently acquired Daraprim (pyrimethamine) jumped from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA). The organizations urged for a revision to the generic medication’s pricing strategy in a Sept. 8 letter to the pharmaceutical company, and welcomed word of the repricing.

“We are encouraged by the quick attention Turing’s 5,000% price increase for the drug received from policymakers and heartened by the swift response of the company to address this,” IDSA President Stephen B. Calderwood, MD, and HIVMA Chair Adaora A. Adimora, MD, MPH, wrote in a joint statement. “We remain concerned that substantial price increases for generic drugs continue to occur.

“We hope to see continued attention to distribution and drug pricing practices that affect the accessibility of essential medicines for patients.”

Stephen B. Calderwood

The pricing issue for pyrimethamine also was accompanied by a shortage in supply. According to IDSA and HIVMA, multiple hospitals reported an inability to obtain the drug, including those with 340B pharmacies. Wendy S. Armstrong, MD, FIDSA, FACP, medical director of the Ponce de Leon Center in Atlanta and vice chair of HIVMA, confirmed seeing similar issues affecting her own practice and various drug assistance programs.

“The supply issues have been very significant for us,” Armstrong told Infectious Disease News. “We’ve been, frankly, unable to get the drug for a significant period of time. The Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program — which provides medications to patients with HIV who have no other insurance or payer source — has been unable to obtain a supply of this medication for a few months. They have been putting out alerts to those of us who use those services.”

In response to the letter from IDSA and HIVMA, Eliseo Salinas, MD, MSc, president of research and development at Turing Pharmaceuticals, said that while the company is “determined” to ensure full patient access to the medication, there are additional factors complicating the associations’ pricing appraisal. In another statement, Nancy Retzlaff, chief commercial officer at Turing, attributed the supply problems experienced by several health care facilities to the drug’s recent acquisition from Impax Laboratories, which she said have since been corrected.

“We are committed to improving the care of patients who are diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, and have developed an innovative and sustainable model that we believe will allow us to serve today’s patients and help meet tomorrow’s needs,” Craig Rothenberg, chief communication officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, told Infectious Disease News. “There have been no new therapies for toxoplasmosis in decades, and innovation is urgently needed. We are investing in the scientific development of new and improved formulations of Daraprim, as well as investigating new therapeutics that we hope will help eradicate the disease.”

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. by Dave Muoio