The medical community is outraged by a 5,500 percent price hike for Daraprim, a drug that has been on the market for over 60 years, and can be essential to certain AIDS and cancer treatments. The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, the second most common food-borne disease that affects patients suffering from AIDS and cancer. Toxoplasmosis can affect the brain, potentially leading to blindness and brain damage. It has been produced since 1953 and is on the WHO List of Essential Medicines.
Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill in just over a month after buying the rights for the drug from Impax Laboratories.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), in an open letter said:
“This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system. Under the current pricing structure, it is estimated that the annual cost of treatment for toxoplasmosis, for the pyrimethamine component alone, will be $336,000 for patients who weigh less than 60kg and $634,500 for patients who weigh more than 60kg”
About 60 million people in the United States may carry toxoplasmosis, a life threatening disease transmitted by eating under-cooked meat, drinking unclean water, and being in contact with infected cat feces. But not all patients in the US have medical insurance that can compensate for the cost of the drug, especially young mothers who can pass on the decease to their child.
“What we’re seeing is that this is going to disproportionately impact individuals who may not have insurance … and may be more likely to have other barriers to health care, including transportation, poverty and stigma,” Wendy S. Armstrong, vice chair of HIVMA explained.
People whose insurance plans require a 20 percent co-payment of the cost would be required to cough up $150 a pill.