The true intentions of Martin Shkreli, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, were revealed after extracts of documents that intended to increase the prices of Daraprim drug were made public. His priorities were more focused on filling its own pocket rather than helping save other people’s lives.
Turing Pharmaceuticals is a company that offers two products: Daraprim for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, and Vecamyl for the treatment of hypertension. In 2015, the company acquired the rights of the Daraprim drug and it was widely criticized for raising its prize over 5000%. Daraprim is the only approved drug for toxoplasmosis, a life-threatening parasitic infection that affects patients with weakened immune systems, including those with cancer and AIDS, but its patent expired decades ago.
Turing purchased the old drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and immediately raised its price turning Daraprim into a $200-million-a-year drug. Shkreli said in an email to a contact: “We raised the price from $1,700 per bottle to $75,000”. Selling each bottle of 100 pills in $75,000, would mean $750 a pill.
“So 5,000 paying bottles at the new price is $375,000,000 — almost all of it is profit and I think we will get three years of that or more,’’ Mr. Shkreli continued. “Should be a very handsome investment for all of us. Let’s all cross our fingers that the estimates are accurate.’’
A big part of the 250,000 pages of documents Turing Pharmaceuticals turned over to Congress were released on Tuesday by Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee in the form of memos: one of them, the extract of the email. They were published before a committee hearing to examine the increases on drug price.
Cummings has taken advantage of his important position to investigate several companies that have bought low-cost drugs and have risen their prices to an unfair level. He said in a statement that the documents show “that many drug companies are lining their pockets at the expense of some of the most vulnerable families in our nation.”
Mr. Shkreli’s arguments say that Daraprim was such a small-selling drug that the price increase would not affect the health care system. The company would help with co-payments and would take other measures to ensure all patients who need the drug receive it. He said the money from the new price would be used for research on new drugs.
However, some of the documents released show that some patients had to deal with co-payments as high as $16,800 and Turing was receiving protest from doctors.
Shkreli has hired a new lawyer named Benjamin Brafman who has specialized on criminal defense. He has defended celebrities such as Puff Daddy and Michael Jackson.
Shkreli cited the Fifth Amendment, which protects against the abuse of government authority in legal proceedings to avoid self-incrimination, and he refuses to answer questions.
Source: The New York Times