Spike in drug's cost concerns health care advocates

The price for one prescription drug increased by 5,000 percent as demand for the drug that treats a common parasite that attacks people with weakened immune systems grows.
The price for one prescription drug increased by 5,000 percent as demand for the drug that treats a common parasite that attacks people with weakened immune systems grows. | File photo
In response to the price for one prescription drug increasing by 5,000 percent as its demand for treatment of a common parasite that attacks people with weakened immune systems has grown, some health experts who treat patients with AIDS and cancer have denounced the new cost to treat a condition could be life-threatening.

“This is a tremendous increase,” Judith Aberg, a spokesperson for the HIV Medicine Association, said. She added that even patients with insurance could have trouble affording the medication.

Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill last month, shortly after purchasing the rights to the drug from Impax Laboratories. Turing has exclusive rights to market Daraprim (pyrimethamine), which has been on the market since 1953.

Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, the second most common food-borne disease, which can easily infect people whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy or even pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Patients whose insurance plans require them to pay 20 percent of the cost of a drug — a common practice — must now shell out $150 a pill because insurance companies often put high-price drugs in the "specialty" category, requiring patients to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year for prescriptions.
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HIV Medicine Association 1300 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22209

Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York 1177 6th Avenue New York, NY 10036

USA Today 7950 Jones Branch Drive McLean, VA 22102