How Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals Sought to Placate the HIV Community About Its Drug Price Hike
February 3, 2016
On Feb. 2, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released two memos in advance of an upcoming hearing on drastic increases in drug costs. One memo reveals that former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli and his colleagues were advised of the potential threat of HIV activists bringing scrutiny to the huge returns the company would gain from gaming public health and destroying hospital budgets by raising the price of Daraprim. Daraprim treats toxoplasmosis, a rare condition that can be an opportunistic infection in people with HIV with advanced immune system suppression.
The Cummings memo includes emails, presentations and internal documents revealing the company's strategies and its leaders' glee in the massive profits they would garner:
But there was one big threat to their profitable scheme.
"The documents obtained by the Committee indicate that company executives anticipated a potential backlash in response to Daraprim's price increase, but believed that physicians generally are not sensitive to price increases and that HIV/AIDS advocates -- while organized and vocal -- could be managed," explains the memo.
How would the HIV community be managed? It seems by encouraging them to sit it out by making them think it was a fight between Turing and penny-pinching insurance companies, by buying them off with patient education programs and by telling the Human Rights Campaign to chill out.
Well, apparently that didn't work, because widespread and vocal opposition from the HIV community stretched from online furor to the lobby of the Turing Pharmaceuticals' office building.
TheBody.com took a look at what the memo reveals about Turing's strategy to defuse the HIV community:
"HIV patient advocacy may react to price increase. ... HIV community is highly organized, sensitive, and action-oriented."
JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.
This article was provided by TheBody.
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