U.S. pharmaceutical company raises price of AIDS medication by 5,000 percent

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Specialty medications, which include high-cost drugs that require extra care, are dramatically increasing in cost. Photo by Flickr user e-Magine Art

A medication used to treat patients with compromised immune systems has increased by 5,000 percent, limiting the ability of patients to seek the treatment. Photo by Flickr user e-Magine Art

The price of Daraprim, a 62-year-old medical treatment used by AIDS patients, has increased by more than 5,000 percent after being acquired by pharmaceutical company Turing Pharmaceuticals for $55 million on August 10.

Since Turing’s acquisition, the medication has changed from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. The drug treats people with the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis as well as those with compromised immune systems, many of whom are individuals with HIV.

On Sunday, Turing CEO Martin Shkreli answered critics’ questions of why the price has gotten so high on Twitter.

On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined the conversation:

Clinton’s tweet led to a 4.7 percent plunge in biotech stocks, according to Bloomberg.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and HIV Medicine Association wrote an open letter to Turing on Sept. 8 urging the company to reconsider the move. “This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system,” the letter said.

Turing CEO Martin Shkreli has said the company will use the profits from the price increase to develop new treatments for toxoplasmosis and other afflictions to the immune system.

“We’re simply charging the right price that the markets missed, the prior owners have missed, and we’re doing something very good with those profits,” Shkreli told the BBC. “We’re putting them right back in the patient’s’ hands.”

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