"THEY SEE ME ROLLING..." pic.twitter.com/D1mDBEeZMq— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) September 16, 2015
Much reviled pharma guy Martin Shkreli has yet again revealed himself to be operating from a place of questionable morality. The 70 percent owner of South San Francisco-based KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc. has announced plans to increase the two-month treatment price of a lifesaving drug from $100 to an estimated $80,000.
Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals was in the news earlier this year, when the founder announced he would raise the price of a drug used by AIDS patients to treat parasitic infections from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
Tech Times notes that the more recently proposed price increase, announced in an investor conference call last week, would target a drug used to treat Chagas disease, a particular parasitic infection that can be fatal.
The two-month course of the drug, benznidazole, is currently available at the cost of $50 to $100 in Latin America, notes the Times, but at present is only available in the United States directly from the Centers for Disease Control (the CDC makes the drug available for free).
Shkreli's move, suggests the New York Times, is part of a larger scheme to acquire a FDA voucher for expediting the review process of another drug. By bringing benznidazole to the US commercial market, albeit at an exorbitant rate, Shkreli would be eligible for a voucher originally intended as a reward to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for neglected diseases. His company could then sell this voucher (vouchers have sold for as much as $350 million, notes the New York Times) to another pharmaceutical company.
“It’s caused a lot of angst in the Chagas community,” says Dr. Sheba Meymandi, the director of a Chagas treatment center. “Everyone’s in an uproar.”
It is estimated that 300,000 people in the United States suffer the disease.
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