Express Scripts offers cheaper $1 pill alternative to Turing's $750 per pill drug

December 3
2:36 AM 2015

Drug prescription firm Express Scripts Holding Co. offers a cheap alternative to Turing's $750 a pill drug by promoting its own $1 a pill drug.

Express Scripts announced Tuesday that it is going to create a cure for the rare infection called toxoplasmosis for only $1 per pill. According to ARS Technica, the cheap alternative is already produced and marketed by Imprimis Pharmaceuticals located in San Diego.

This new drug comes after Turing was ostracized for raising the price of its Daraprim by over 5,000 percent a couple of months ago.

When Turing Pharmaceuticals bought rights to Daraprim, it increased the prices to $750 a pill from only $13.50 a pill. This sparked outrage from patients, doctors, and even politicians.

According to CBS News, Turing CEO Martin Shkreli defended the price hike saying, "Well, it depends on how you define so drastically. Because the drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money. And at this price it's a reasonable profit. Not excessive at all."

Meanwhile, Express Scripts senior vice president and chief medical officer Steve Millersaid, "Leveraging our expertise to improve access and affordability to an important medication is the right thing to do."

The New York Times reported that Daraprim, which is generically known as pyrimethamine, is the best treatment for toxoplasmosis. This disease is a parasitic infection that is fatal for people with AIDS and for infants.

There is no patent protection for this compound, but there is no approved generic version in the United States because of the small market.

Compounded drugs are difficult to sell because they are tailor-made for patients with the particular illness. This means Express Scripts and other prescription drug managers can't easily order the compound if a doctor prescribes Daraprim for their patients.

To solve this, Express Scripts' promotion allows physicians prescribe the compounded version and forward the prescription to Imprimis.

Express Scripts is now cooperating with the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association to spread the news about the cheaper alternative.

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