Hillary Clinton has found a useful enemy in Turing Pharmaceuticals, the once obscure and now infamous drug company that jacked up the price on a old drug used to treat a range of diseases from parasitic infection to AIDS.
Clinton rolled out a plan last week leek aimed at limiting the amount of money people spend on drugs. Her plan’s announcement came just after a New York Times story highlighted Turing’s plans to raise the cost of drug called Daraprim overnight a whopping 5,000%.
Clinton made the company and the price hike exhibit A in the case for her drug plan, and she made its CEO the poster child of pharma executives run amok. Even if CEO Mark Shkreli is hardly representative of the drug industry (he’s a 32-year-old serial entrepreneur) it would be difficult to invent a better political foil than Shkreli, who had created a long trail of disgruntled investors long before he bought the intellectual property rights to Daraprim.
In the face of public outcry following the Times story, Shkreli said last week he would lower the price of the drug, though he did not say by how much. But Clinton is not done with Shkreli yet.
In a new television ad released Monday, Clinton’s campaign highlights how the former secretary of state went after Turing and suggests she contributed to Shkreli’s decision to lower the price. “It is time to deal with skyrocketing out of pocket costs,” Clinton says in the ad as commentators discuss her attack on Turning and its decision to back down.
In a Q&A on Facebook Monday afternoon, Clinton called out Shkreli by name, asking him to lower the cost of the drug from the proposed hiked rate of $750 per tablet down to its original price of $13.50. “Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be? Do the right thing. Lower the cost today to its original price,” she wrote. “There are other drug companies gouging Americans with higher prices than they charge other people around the world. We want to reward innovation, but right now consumers don’t know if they are buying value or simply subsidizing high profits.”
Clinton’s campaign says they feel the Turning pharmaceutical story is winning issue for the candidate because it’s understandable to real people and impacts peoples’ lives. And her aggressive posture on the company fits with the mantra of Clinton as a “fighter,” which the campaign has tried to push in everything from its ads to its fundraising emails to it campaign event playlist.