Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has sent a letter to former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, condemning his company's efforts to tout a 50% “price cut” for Daraprim after the company increased the price of the drug in August by 5,000%.
“Over the past several weeks, your company has issued several press releases touting steps to lower the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat potentially life-threatening parasitic infections in people with compromised immune systems, such as pregnant women and people with HIV/AIDS and cancer,” said Cummings. “However, your press releases appear to be nothing but a transparent, shameless and wholly inadequate attempt to resuscitate your image after your company acquired this critical drug in August and increased the price by 5,000% overnight—from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet.”
In a press release issued Nov. 24, Shkreli's company stated it was reducing the price of Daraprim for hospitals by 50%. The press release also highlighted that the company would be offering new, smaller bottles “for hospitals to make it easier to stock Daraprim as well as lower their carrying costs.”
"To claim that a 50% discount after a 5,000% increase is a 'price cut' is Orwellian double-speak. Because of your actions, hospitals are now being forced to pay about $375 for just one tablet of Daraprim—even after your company’s ‘price cut’—when less than six months ago the same hospitals paid only $13.50 per tablet," said Cummings. “Obviously, you are not doing hospitals any favors by exponentially increasing the price of Daraprim and then decreasing the size of the bottles.”
Cummings also criticized another press release in which the company touted a new agreement it reached to sell Daraprim to the Texas AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for $1 per bottle, or $0.01 per tablet. “However, this agreement merely appears to bring your company into compliance with federal law,” said Cummings. “It appears that this agreement became necessary after your massive price increases and restricted distribution scheme made it nearly impossible for state ADAPs to access Daraprim at affordable prices.”
Shkreli’s actions have been condemned by the HIV Medicine Association, the Infectious Disease Society of America, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and others.
On Sept. 21, Cummings wrote to Shkreli along with Sen. Bernie Sanders requesting documents justifying those massive price increases. Two days later, Cummings wrote to Shkreli requesting documents relating to the company’s pricing for Daraprim under the 340B Drug Discount Program. On Oct. 30, the company responded by declining to provide any of the requested documents, stating: “Under the advice of counsel, we are unable to provide certain numbers and data related to proprietary information.”