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LGBT Advocates Call for Investigation of Drug Price Rise

At $750 a pill, treatment with Daraprim rose to more than $300,000 a year. Credit: Ladyheart/morguefile.com
At $750 a pill, treatment with Daraprim rose to more than $300,000 a year. Credit: Ladyheart/morguefile.com
September 24, 2015

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign wants to know if the 5,000 percent increase in the price of a potentially life-saving drug is illegal.

The drug, called Daraprim, is used to treat a parasitic infection and has been around for decades. When Martin Shkreli took over New York-based Turing Pharmaceuticals, he raised the price from $13.50 to $750 for each pill. Brandon Lorenz, a spokesperson for HRC, says that puts the drug out of reach for many people who need it.

"People who are living with HIV, pregnant women, and so a price increase of that magnitude, borne by the most vulnerable people in our country, is absolutely unjustified and unprecedented," says Lorenz.

HRC has written to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, asking him to investigate if the price rise violates New York law. Shkreli has said the higher price is comparable to other drugs with similar life-saving potential, and the money would fund research to create a better drug.

The price increase caused a major outcry from health advocates and Shkreli has since said he will lower the cost, but has not indicated by how much. For Lorenz, that is little comfort to those who need the drug now.

"I think the entire world is watching, and people who depend on this medication for their medical treatment deserve to know what the price of that medication will be," he says.

News reports indicate that only a few years ago Daraprim was sold for as little as $1 a pill.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY