This Other Company Will Put Punchy-Faced Pill Man Out Of Business, Sell Drug For A Dollar

He seems the polar opposite of nice

Oh, hey, remember "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, the amoral bucket of pigs' spleens who bought a small pharmaceutical company so he could raise the price of its chief product, a medication used to treat toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 a pill to $750.00, and then everyone on the internet hated him? Yeah, that douche.

Even though he's promised to reduce the price of the drug, Daraprim, to some as-yet unspecified lower price, he's still making out like a bandit, and still loathed. He got a good yelling-at on Reddit over the weekend when he held one of those "Ask Me Anything" sessions.

Happily, there may be a solution for some patients who aren't crazy about the cost of the Daraprim, nor about the obscene profits going to a total douche. A competing company is introducing a similar, though not identical, medication that contains the same active ingredient as Daraprim, for only one dollar a pill.

The competitor, a San Diego compounding pharmacy called Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, announced the alternative last Thursday in a news release, saying that Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals -- a ridiculous name that has no connection to the British genius who made modern computing possible -- was welcome to charge whatever it wants, as long as patients and insurance companies are willing to pay it. Imprimis CEO Mark L. Baum suggested "there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim.”

Ars Technica explains that the two drugs aren't identical, so Imprimis's alternative isn't a truly "generic" version:

Daraprim’s active ingredient is pyrimethamine, which has been available since 1953 for the treatment of parasitic diseases (namely malaria and toxoplasmosis). Imprimis’ alternative also contains pyrimethamine as well as leucovorin, which the company said helps to reverse pyrimethamine’s negative effects on bone marrow.

Forbes warns that it might be premature to celebrate the destruction of Martin Shkreli and his evil schemes by a plucky, lower-priced competitor. Looking at the case of another drug with limited availability and an insane sudden price hike, columnist Matthew Herper points out that even when a compounding pharmacy introduced an alternative, the older drug still kept a huge share of the market, for a number of reasons: The FDA isn't crazy about compounding pharmacies, and neither are insurance companies. Also, since compounding pharmacies "can only provide medicines on a one-off basis, when a doctor requests them," pharmacies and hospitals can't keep stocks of the new drug on hand.

So while Imprimis is definitely going to take some tiny portion of the market away from Shkreli, he's probably not going to have to start swimming in domestic sparkling water or anything. If we really want to keep these kinds of bullshit price increases, which take once-affordable drugs up to what the market will bear, regardless of the actual cost of making them, then we need to make serious changes in how we pay for drugs. Unfortunately, any change at all would, of course, be socialism. So never mind.

[Ars Technica / RawStory / Forbes]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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