Martin Shkreli Won't Lower the Price of Daraprim After All

November 25th 2015

Remember when Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli promised to lower the price of Daraprim, the life-saving drug that his company acquired, by Christmas? Yeah, well that's not happening anymore.

RELATED: Martin Shkreli Plans To "Modestly Lower" the Price of Daraprim by Christmas

The drug company announced on Wednesday that it would not "modestly lower" the price, as Shkreli said it would earlier this month. Instead, it plans to offer discounts to hospitals and bottles of Daraprim that have less pills per bottle.

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"Combined with our robust patient access programs, this is an important step in our commitment to ensure ready access to Daraprim at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost for both hospitals and patients," Turing Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Retzlaff stated in a press release.

Turing bought Daraprim—which is the standard treatment option for an infectious disease and is also used by AIDS and cancer patients—in September. Shortly thereafter, the company raised the price of the life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill, or about a 5,000 percent increase.

The public backlash over the price hike, which was originally reported by the New York Times, forced Shkreli on the defensive. And in an interview with ABC News in late September, he vowed to lower the price. Then Shkreli sat down for an hour-long interview with HIV activist Josh Robbins the next month and assured that he would lower the price of Daraprim "modestly" (he estimated that it would be reduced by about 10 percent) by December 25.

But that deal is off, Turing announced on Wednesday.

"Drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry," Retzlaff said. "A drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access. A reduction in Daraprim's list price would not translate into a benefit for patients."

To be sure, drug pricing is a complex feature of the healthcare industry in the U.S. That is due, in part, to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry largely lacks regulation and oversight—a point that Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both made in response to the Daraprim price hike scandal.

RELATED: Martin Shkreli Won't Cooperate in Federal Investigation

In an effort to understand how Turing and a number of other drug companies set their prices, a special Senate committee has called on Shkreli and other pharmaceutical executives to appear before the Senate on December 9 for a hearing on drug pricing practices. But Shkreli said he won't go to that hearing unless his lawyers "tell me I absolutely have to go."

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