WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton demanded Monday that Turing Pharmaceuticals restore Daraprim back to its original price, after the drug company increased the cost of the prescription from $13.50 a pill to $750.
The drug treats a parasitic infection that is especially dangerous for cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. The New York Times first called attention to the price hike, sparking public outcry and offering an opportunity for presidential candidates like Clinton to share their plans to lower the prices of such drugs. Clinton did just that in a Facebook Q&A, while referencing the plan she released last week to make prescription drugs more affordable.
Turing CEO Martin Shkreli has said he would roll back the price increase in response "to the anger that was felt by people," but hasn't specified what the new cost would be. So Clinton took the opportunity to knock Shkreli in response to a question about how to lower prescription drug costs for those who aren't on Medicare.
"Did you see the outcry last week about the former hedge fund manager who bought up drug patents, then raised the price of medicine for AIDS patients by more than 5000%?" Clinton wrote. "He still hasn’t said how much the drug will cost going forward, and in the meantime, sick patients still have to wait and worry and continue to pay $750/pill. So Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be? Do the right thing. Lower the cost today to its original price."
Clinton's prescription drug plan would give Medicare the ability to negotiate bulk discounts from pharmaceutical companies, would cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for people with chronic ailments and would hasten the arrival of cheaper generic drugs into the marketplace, among other measures. On Facebook, she said that her plan would balance rewarding innovation while keeping drugs affordable.
"Force drug manufacturers to justify their prices, make sure they add real value," she wrote. "Require the largest drug manufacturers to invest a minimum amount in [research and development]. And - a new idea to chew on - let's explore using some of these new research funds to invest directly in producing generic competitors where none exists."
Earlier on Monday, Clinton released a television ad touting how Shkreli said he would lower the cost of Daraprim after Clinton called the hike "price gouging."