Business

HIV pill in 5,000% price rise storm will be made cheaper in US

Martin Shkreli Image copyright CBS News
Image caption Turing Pharmaceuticals boss Martin Shkreli had previously defended the price raise

The company that sparked an outcry by raising the price of its HIV drug in the US by 5,000% says it will cut its price for some users.

Martin Shkreli's drug company Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to 62-year old drug Daraprim and increased the price per pill from $13.50 to $750.

Turing said it will cut the price by 50% for hospitals and offer financial assistance to individuals.

However, the company will keep its list price at the new higher level.

In September Turing promised to reduce the price.

The pill costs around $1 for patients in Europe.

In statement Turing's chief commercial officer Nancy Retzlaff defended the company's move. She said that reducing the listing price would not have translated into saving for patients.

"Drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry. A drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access," Ms Retzlaff said.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Daraprim now sells for $750 (£495) a dose despite costing $1 to produce

Doctors though worry keeping the price so high will make it impossible for hospitals to stock the drug for the few patients who need it.

"The decision not to lower the price leaves patients in the same boat," said Dr Joel Gallant, medical director of special service at Southwest Care centre.

Though Turing is offering payment assistance for some patients, Dr Gallant said this could still leave patients waiting for treatment.

"Patients start the drug in the hospital, but then they need to be discharged with the drug. While they wait for patient assistance to be approved they could be re-hospitalised," said Dr Gallant.

The original increase sparked outrage on social media and among politicians.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the increase "price gouging".

Turing's chief executive Martin Shkreli- who had been labelled the most hated man in America-fought back saying politicians did not understand Pharmaceutical pricing.

He later backed down and promised to lower the price of the drug, though never said by how much.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Martin Shkreli, seen here in an August Twitter post, has aggressively answered critics

Mr Shkreli told ABC news in September, "'We've agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit."

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