A drug that became the focus of a controversy after a dramatic price hike last month has yet to be available at a lower price, according to a check of multiple pharmacies in the U.S. by ABC News.
The drug Daraprim is used to treat a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis that most often occurs in those with compromised immune systems due to cancer treatments or HIV infection. After the drug was bought by Turing Pharmaceuticals, the price skyrocketed from $18 a pill to $750.
After an outpouring of criticism over the price hike, the CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, told ABC News on Sept. 22 that the company would lower the price but did not give an indication of how much the price would drop or when. Today, pharmacies in New York, Phoenix and Las Vegas all reported that the current cash cost of the drug remained high.
All three pharmacies reported a cost between $888 and $906 dollars, with the extra cost beyond $750 attributed to different pharmacy fees. Turing Pharmaceuticals did not immediately respond to calls and email from ABC News asking for the current price and timeline for when the price would drop.
Shkreli told ABC News last month that the company had heard the outcry over the increased price and were prepared to take action.
"We've agreed to lower the price on Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit," he told ABC News. "We think these changes will be welcomed."
Damien Conover, director of health care at the investment research and investment management firm Morningstar, said if Turing has indeed lowered the price of the drug in recent days and did not announce it, it's possible that Daraprim prices will drop as drug suppliers go through their inventory.
Larger companies can usually drop drug prices extremely quickly, within a few days, Conover said, while smaller companies may take longer. However, he estimated that even a small company could change pricing within two weeks.
Last month, Turing defended the price increase, saying they want to fund new research and development.
"There have been no significant advances or research into this disease area in decades," the company said in a statement. "For toxoplasmosis and other critical, under-treated diseases, the status quo is not an option. Turing hopes to change that by targeting investments that both improve on the current formulation and seek to develop new therapeutics with better clinical profiles that we hope will help eradicate the disease."