Pyrimethamine Price Gouge: Should we be surprised at this point?

Interesting drug pricing news in after Turing Pharmaceuticals recent price increase on Daraprim® (Pyrimethamine) from $13.50/pill to $750/pill (>55-fold increase).[1] The myth that drug pricing in the United States is associated with costs from investment in research and development to bring new drugs to market is easily debunked with the case of pyrimethamine, considering this drug was approved in the 1950’s and changes in prices have occurred recently based on ownership changes. [1]

How can this happen?Please make more and compete!

The financial strategy for a business to exploit a temporary monopoly is not a new one. Cornering a niche market has been previously discussed on this blog [See Drug Price Wars, Episode III] using the case example of Amedra Pharmaceuticals and albendazole.[2] Interestingly, Amedra Pharmaceuticals a part of the same holding company where this Daraprim® mess started.[3] Coincidence? Hmmm… Anyway, this financial strategy is not new and there is nothing on the surface that is even illegal or “shady” according to the laws in this country. These companies are gambling on the risk that no other generic manufacturer will go through the Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) process to get a competitor to market for Daraprim®. If this drug is not protected by a patent, then technically any of us could start a company (See attached molecular structure of pyrimethamine) and build competition to bring down the $750/pill price, but who is willing to pay the startup costs for this small volume medication.

Should we expect more? YES!!!

Until economic incentives (or our laws/regulations) change we should expect more maneuvering in the field for small market generic drugs.

References

  1. Pollack A. Drug goes from $13.50 a tablet to $750, overnight. New York Times. September 20, 2015. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/a-huge-overnight-increase-in-a-drugs-price-raises-protests.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=1, accessed September 21, 2015.
  2. Alpern JD, Stauffer WM, Kesselheim AS. High-cost generic drugs – implications for patients and policy makers. N Engl J Med. 2014; 371:1859-1862.
  3. Impax announces sale of Daraprim® to Turing Pharmaceuticals AG. August 10, 2015. Available at: http://investors.impaxlabs.com/Media-Center/Press-Releases/Press-Release-Details/2015/Impax-Announces-Sale-of-Daraprim-to-Turing-Pharmaceuticals-AG/default.aspx, accessed September 21, 2015.
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Joey
Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy located in Baltimore, Maryland. Joey has managed retail and long-term care pharmacy operations in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Leading Over The Counter is a blog of Joey's views and opinions on the topics of pharmacy leadership and management and do not represent the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Joey can be followed on Twitter @joeymattingly.

4 Responses to “Pyrimethamine Price Gouge: Should we be surprised at this point?

  • j Badia
    2 years ago

    Darapramin (pyrimethamine) can be purchased in India by mail. @ tablets of 250 mgs sell for 3.83 rupees, equivalent to $0.06 dollars , that is right 6 American cents

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  • What The Daraprim Price Hike Actually Does To Health Care | :

    […] Mattingly wrote on his blog that the decision to sharply increase the price for an old, generic drug — in other words, a drug that any other pharmaceutical company could also manufacture — is based on a gamble that no other company will be nimble enough to immediately get FDA approval for a generic competitor for Daraprim. While Mattingly predicts that within the next year or two, other companies will offer cheaper Daraprim generics, the price will never again go back to where it used to be. […]

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  • What The Daraprim Price Hike Actually Does To Health Care | AGReGate.info :

    […] Mattingly wrote on his blog that the decision to sharply increase the price for an old, generic drug — in other words, a drug that any other pharmaceutical company could also manufacture — is based on a gamble that no other company will be nimble enough to immediately get FDA approval for a generic competitor for Daraprim. While Mattingly predicts that within the next year or two, other companies will offer cheaper Daraprim generics, the price will never again go back to where it used to be. […]

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  • What The Daraprim Price Hike Actually Does To Health Care - Cosmos Posting :

    […] Mattingly wrote on his blog that the decision to sharply increase the price for an old, generic drug — in other words, a drug that any other pharmaceutical company could also manufacture — is based on a gamble that no other company will be nimble enough to immediately get FDA approval for a generic competitor for Daraprim. While Mattingly predicts that within the next year or two, other companies will offer cheaper Daraprim generics, the price will never again go back to where it used to be. […]

    2 years ago

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