Express Scripts To Offer $1 Version Of Drug That Skyrocketed To $750/Pill Overnight

daraprimEarlier this year, a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to Daraprim (pyrimethamine), an anti-parasitic used to treat malaria and toxoplasmosis, that had sold for as little as $1/tablet until not too long ago. Overnight, the price of Daraprim skyrocketed to around $750/pill, resulting in angry doctors, and a Senate investigation. Today, pharmacy benefits giant Express Scripts announced a partnership that will introduce a version of pyrimethamine at the pre-Turing price.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts said today that it has partnered with San Diego drug compounder Imprimis Pharmaceuticals to release a compounded oral formulation of pyrimethamine and leucovorin (a form of folic acid) for $1 per capsule for Express Scripts customers.

Patients with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV, who need Daraprim may not need to wait too long for this alternate, cheaper option. The companies say they hope to start processing the drug within the coming weeks.

The announcement was applauded by the same groups of physicians that publicly criticized Turing for gouging patients in need.

“We urge other private and public health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers to also make this option available to their beneficiaries,” reads a joint statement from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. “Since the price increase taken by Turing Pharmaceuticals in August, our infectious diseases and HIV medical provider members have reported significant challenges obtaining pyrimethamine for their patients.”

Last week, in spite of pressure from Walgreens — the only pharmacy offering Daraprim — to reduce the drug’s price, Turing announced that it intended to keep the price where it is.

“We are optimistic that this arrangement will help address the serious cost and access barriers that have prevented or delayed pregnant women, infants, and patients with HIV infection or following transplantation from accessing this lifesaving treatment,” say the physicians’ groups.

[via Chicago Tribune]

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