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Drug’s 5000% price rise puts spotlight on soaring US drug costs

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 24 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5114
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

News that a US pharmaceutical company acquired a 60 year old generic drug and then promptly raised its price 5000% may make soaring US drug prices a major issue in the upcoming presidential campaign.

In August the company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, based in New York City, acquired pyrimethamine (marketed as Daraprim), then promptly raised its price from $13.50 (£9; €12) to $750 a tablet. Pyrimethamine is an antiparasitic drug that in the United States is used primarily to treat toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis can cause severe brain and eye damage, particularly in infants born to mothers who had been newly infected and people with severely weakened immune systems, including patients with AIDS, people undergoing chemotherapy, and recipients of transplants. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association estimated that at the new price the cost of treating a patient with a course of pyrimethamine would now range from $336 000 to $634 500, depending on the patient’s weight.

An article about the price rise …

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