A chemist works inside Imprimis Pharmaceuticals in Irvine, Calif. 
Photo by Joel Morillo/Passage Productions/AP

Competitor to offer $1 pill after Turing price hike outrage

Updated

A specialty drug company says it can offer a cheap alternative to compete with Turing CEO Martin Shkreli’s controversial $750 pill that sparked outrage after the price was dramatically increased.

San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals says it can make a close, customized version of the drug for $1 a pill. That’s a big contrast to the $750-a-dose that Shkreli said Turing was going to start charging for Daraprim, which fights parasitic infections.

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The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association estimated it would cost $336,000 a year to treat someone with toxoplasmosis at that price.

“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,” Imprimis CEO Mark Baum said in a statement.

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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,” Baum said.

“In response to this recent case and others that we will soon identify, Imprimis is forming a new program called Imprimis Cares which is aligned to our corporate mission of making novel and customizable medicines available to physicians and patients today at accessible prices,” Baum said.

Daraprim is known generically as pyrimethamine. It’s been around since 1953 and has been generic for decades. It’s prescribed for a range of parasitic infections but is especially used by patients infected with HIV who are vulnerable to toxoplasmosis.

Imprimis says its drug, which would have to be compounded to order, has something extra called leucovorin.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pyrimethamine works to block folic acid synthesis in the parasite T. gondii, the cause of toxoplasmosis, and leucovorin helps to reverse the negative effects on bone marrow caused by this mechanism of action,” the company said.

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“Imprimis is now offering customizable compounded formulations of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in oral capsules starting as low as $99.00 for a 100 count bottle, or at a cost of under a dollar per capsule. Compounded medications may be appropriate for prescription when a commercially-available medicine does not meet the specific needs of a patient.”

Turing bought Daraprim from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750. It had originally been made and sold by GlaxoSmithKline for about $1 a tablet.

After widespread criticism, Shkreli said last month that his company would lower the price of Daraprim but he did not say exactly when or what the new price would be.

Shkreli had said the money from the increase would be used to develop better treatment for toxoplasmosis that have fewer side effects, and that drugs like Daraprim will not exist if small companies cannot get a return on their investment.

This article first appeared at NBCNews.com

Drugs and Martin Shkreli

Competitor to offer $1 pill after Turing price hike outrage

Updated