New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman has opened an investigation into Turing Pharmaceuticals to determine if the company has limited access to essential drugs. The drug company has incited a public outrage after inflating the price of an essential AIDS drug over fifty times the original cost per tablet.
Turing Pharmaceuticals and its CEO, Martin Shkreli, earned the indignation of the American people after acquiring ownership of the drug Daraprim in August, and hiking the price from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Daraprim is an effective treatment for toxoplasmosis, an infection that threatens AIDS patients and vulnerable infants, the New York Times reports.
Shkreli, a former Wall Street hedge-fund manager, has been the focus of the public outrage, and many accuse the 32-year-old of being the living embodiment of heartless greed. He has been dubbed “the most hated man in America,” according to CNN Money.
After intense public pressure, Shkreli said that Turing would lower the outrageous cost for Daraprim, but he has yet to follow through on his promise. The company, however, said that they have been generous with discounts, claiming that half of their sales have been $1 per bottle.
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The attorney general’s office sent a letter to Turing Pharmaceuticals on Oct. 12, asking that they cooperate with a new investigation into the company’s business practices. While Schneiderman will not be investigating Shkreli’s company for its price hike, the attorney general is looking into whether or not Turing has violated antitrust laws, the New York Times reports.
Since the company took ownership of Daraprim, its availability has been restricted, according to CNN Money. With less access to the drug, generic manufacturers will not be able to have enough samples to create their own, far cheaper versions.
In the letter addressed to Shkreli on Oct. 12, the attorney general’s office writes that they suspect Turing is restricting access to the drug so that patients and doctors will have no choice but to pay the exorbitant fee.
“While competition might ordinarily be expected to deter such a massive price increase, it appears that Turing may have taken steps to prevent that competition from arising,” the letter reads, according to the New York Times.
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Shkreli was vocally in favor of limiting access to drug samples in order to stomp out competition during his leadership of another drug company, Retrophin. That company also reportedly underwent a criminal federal investigation under Shkreli's leadership.