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Daraprim Scandal

Oct 22, 2015

Martin Shkreli and the Daraprim scandal. I was wondering what your opinion is on all of this. I may be in the minority but I am okay paying higher prices for drugs in order for research and development to produce better therapies for us in the future. However, in this case it seems this guy and others are simply taking advantage of the system in order to line their own pockets and other already incredible rich mens pockets. I've heard it's a generic medication but one that costs a lot to get FDA approval to produce and so he's kind of exploiting the system and victims of this terrible virus and disease along with cancer patients.

I am not an expert though so I wanted to hear your take. I really respect your work and I think your probably much more knowledgeable the guy just seems to me a real jerk from what I know.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

Turing Pharmaceuticals' Daraprim price increase and Martin Shkreli represent the worse of the pharmaceutical industry.

I'm with you that a healthy pharmaceutical industry is a very good thing. I'm all for pharmaceuticals- their scientists and shareholders are the catalyst to medicines that can and do save lives. Chapeau to William Campbell from Merck to helped discover ivermectin- an antibiotic that cures river blindness and who gave away hundreds of millions of doses to people in Africa to do just that. Chapeau to the many who helped develop the current antiretrovirals and the huge industry/community/governmental efforts that lowered the price of still-on patent meds to Africa and have so far, saved tens of millions of years of life.

But Wall Street's greed was galvanized ten years ago when Abbott Laboratories raised the prices of Norvir 400%. The failure to reverse that then single largest increase meant that a 500%, or 1000% increase might be possible (it was). That series of price increases culminated in this 5000% increase in Daraprim.

The basic issue is that Turing's "right" to set the price of their drug is legal. Patient's access to drugs, or even the profit margin of insurance companies (who would likely have to pay for the increase) are not protected by US law. Shkreli is a douche for sure. The problem is that he's still acting within the law.

Baring a legal barrier to outrageous price increases, it will take more than a social media outcry. Perhaps industry self-regulation. I'd propose that life saving drugs have price increase caps, perhaps linked to a Wall Street index, or consumer price increase. CEOs of Pfizer, GSK, Merck, Gilead, ViiV, BMS et al., where are you on Turing? On declarations of self limiting the size of pricie increases?

Failure to meaningfully reverse Turing's 5000% increase will mean, just like our failure to roll back Abbott's 400% increase in Norvir price, that 5000%, however revolting, will be the new standard.

BY



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