Free Market Response to Drug Price Gouging

As previously reported, in August of this year, Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat a variety of conditions, including toxoplasmosis, certain cancers, and malaria. Although the primary agent in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, has been available since 1953 and Daraprim was previously priced at approximately $13.50 per tablet, Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of the drug to $750.00 per tablet, sparking outrage across the county. However, in a refreshing turn of events, a recent announcement by generic drug manufacturer Imprimis could lead to a correction in Turing Pharmaceuticals’ pricing for Daraprim.

In an announcement covered by The San Diego Union-Tribune, seen here, generic drug manufacturer Imprimis introduced a competitor drug to Turing’s Daraprim, priced at $1.00 per capsule—a huge benefit for patients who would otherwise be subject to Daraprim’s high cost of $750.00 per capsule.  Having previously cornered the market for the primary agent in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, Turing could seemingly set the price of the drug without fear of competition; however, with Imprimis’ announcement, patients have a more reasonably priced alternative for treatment.  Imprimis additionally announced its intention to manufacture other generic drugs and sell them at more reasonable prices.

Imprimis, in designing the formulation of the generic drugs, uses specific FDA approved ingredients, compounded in FDA inspected compounding operations.  However, because the combined ingredients (or “formulation”) is not FDA-approved, a specific and individualized prescription is required to administer the drug to patients.  This method of operation saves Imprimis time and money by circumventing the lengthy process of seeking FDA approval of the drug’s formulation. Not surprisingly, this practice has received some criticism by providers who desire to prescribe FDA approved formulations.


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