Monday, November 02, 2015

225.2 - Update: Martin Shkreli is meeting reality

Update: Martin Shkreli is meeting reality

A couple of weeks ago I went after Martin Shkreli, the smirking little prig of a man who bought the rights to a generic drug called pyrimethamine, marketed under the trade name Daraprim. It's used to treat toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic infection, and is useful against malaria. He immediately jacked up the already-inflated price of $13.50 a pill to a mind-wrecking $750 a pill.

Okay, you probably remember that. Here are two updates you may not have caught.

First, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli's company, is being investigated by the New York state attorney general's office for possible violation of antitrust laws. The issue is that Daraprim has been removed from distribution by the usual wholesalers and by most retail drugstores. Even hospitals have to use a special phone number to order it. By restricting access, Turing makes it harder for any potential competitor to obtain the samples they need to do the testing required to show their product is the same.

Lending credence to the charge is the fact that at his previous company, Retrophin, Shkreli pulled the same sort of crap as he did with pyrimethamine - but at that time talked openly about using restricted distribution to deny samples to generics manufacturers. And if you restrict access deliberately to prevent competition, that is illegal restraint of trade.

The other thing? Smirking little prig Martin Shkreli, who justified jacking up the prices of needed medicine on the grounds that "I'm a capitalist," may be about to find that The Market giveth and The Market taketh away.

Imprimis is a specialist pharmaceutical company, which means that it develops "novel compound pharmaceuticals" - drugs made from combinations of other drugs that can be used "off label," that is, not for their original intended use, to treat specific illnesses.

Well, Imprimis has announced that it has come up with a compound drug that does the same job as Daraprim without some of the side effects. The kicker is the price: A bottle of 100 pills is to go for $99 - just 99 cents a pill.

No word yet on whether or not little prig Martin Shkreli is still smirking.

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