Amid a Twitterstorm and weeks of public outrage, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals Martin Shkreli said in September he would reduce the price of his company’s HIV medication after giving it a 5,000 percent price increase in August from $13.50 (£8.70) to $750 (£485) per pill.
But on Wednesday, Turing Pharmaceuticals released a statement saying it would only be giving 50 percent discounts of Daraprim to hospitals who “bulk buy” the HIV medication, which additionally is still far above the original price, and leaving the regular price at the hugely inflated cost.
Many have said this is simply a finely crafted PR move. Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the HIV Medicine Association, said to the Associated Press that Turing's changes were "just window dressing."
The decision could really just mean the burden of price will now falls on insurers, who will be forced to drive up the cost of a patient's insurance and their future treatments.
Del Rio went on to say that although hospitals treat most patients initially, the bulk of the treatment takes place at home with months of prescriptions.
Another part of the plan is to produce 30-pill bottles, as well as 100-pill bottles, to make it easier for hospitals and pharmacies to stock the pricey drug.
Daraprim is used by patients with AIDS or cancer to fight the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. The parasite is commonly found on unwashed fruit, and in infected meat and water. For most people, the parasite is easily fought off. However, if you have a compromised immune system, such as people with HIV, it can lead to seizures, blindness or neurological damage.
The price hike-up of Daraprim has already affected many people in the United States. Dr. Warren Dinges, from the Seattle Infectious Diseases Clinic, told Associated Press that one of his patients suffering from HIV contracted toxoplasmosis and required the drug. The pharmacy told the patient a month's course of pills would cost around $27,000 (£17,945).