Turing Pharmaceuticals chief Martin Shkreli will face new competition for Daraprim, the AIDS drug he recently hiked 5,000 percent in price, after competitor Imprimis Pharmaceuticals on Thursday said it will market a similar drug for just $1 a tablet.
Shkreli has faced intense backlash since he announced he would raise the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a tablet to $750 apiece. He's since said he'll drop the price, but it hasn't happened yet and the hedge fund manager has not said what the final cost will be.
Daraprim's main ingredient is pyrimethamine, which helps fight off parasitic infections for patients with weakened immune systems, like AIDS patients. The Imprimis drug has a similar effect, since its formula combines pyrimethamine and leucovorin.
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"This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug – especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim – has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable," said Imprimis CEO Mark Baum in the company's announcement.
"While we respect Turing's right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim, for patients, physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to consider," he said.
Imprimis markets compounded medications, the combination of two drugs that have mutual benefits for certain patients. In this case, the addition of leucovorin to the formula means the new drug may help relieve some of the side effects pyrimethamine has on bone marrow.
Shkreli earned the reputation of being the "most hated man in healthcare" after not only hiking the price of Daraprim, but seeming callous to the move in a series of unapologetic posts on social media. The Turing chief bought the rights to Daraprim in August.
Shkreli has said the price hike was not the result of corporate greed, as many pundits online have suggested, and insists that the bulk or Turing's revenue goes toward research and development. Raising the price, he has said, was needed to find a better drug with less side effects than the 60-year-old Daraprim.
However, the 32-year-old continues to battle critics using his Twitter account. He recently attacked presidential candidate Bernie Sanders after the Vermont Senator refused a campaign donation from Shkreli and instead donated it to charity. Shkreli has also attacked the media for what he feels is unfair coverage, most recently targeting CNBC.
Shkreli's brash social media persona is considered to have cost him his prior job as CEO of Retrophin.
All trolling aside, I've been inundated with support, resumes & even women who want a date. To think the whole world dislikes me is foolish.
-- Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) October 17, 2015
Imprimis, in response to rising pharmaceutical prices across the country, said it has created a new program called "Imprimis Cares," which Baum says will work with physicians to create affordable compounded medicines.
"Imprimis Cares, available in all 50 states, will work with all third party insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and buying groups to offer its patient specific customizable compounded drug formulations at prices that ensure accessibility and that provide a reasonable profit for Imprimis," said Baum.
"While we have seen an increase in costs associated with regulatory compliance, recent generic drug price increases have made us concerned and caused us to take positive action to address an opportunity to help a needy patient population."
Here is a broader snapshot of Shkreli's Twitter behavior: