Following widespread public outcry, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli told ABC News that he would reduce the cost of the drug Daraprim, which is used to treat HIV/AIDS and cancer patients after he inflated the price of the medication from $13.50 per pill to $750 overnight, CNN reported.
Shkreli, who was branded “a new icon of modern greed” by the Washington Post for his price gouging, faced immediate backlash upon raising the medication’s price. However, he told CBS that his decision to inflate the price by more than 4,000% was “altruistic."
"Our first and primary stakeholder is patients. There's no doubt about that," he said on CBS. He added that the price of the drug had been so low that "any company selling it would be losing money."
"I can see how it looks greedy, but I think there's a lot of altruistic properties to it," he said.
Shkreli said that while his company would still turn a profit on the now reduced-price dug, it would be “a very small profit.” Though it has not been made explicit how much the medication will cost now, before the decision to reduce the price of the medication was made public, Turing Pharmaceuticals said in a statement that they had inflated the price of the drug to develop new treatments, Yahoo News reported.
"There have been no significant advances or research into this disease area in decades," the company said in a statement. "For toxoplasmosis and other critical, under-treated diseases, the status quo is not an option. Turing hopes to change that by targeting investments that both improve on the current formulation and seek to develop new therapeutics with better clinical profiles that we hope will help eradicate the disease.”
Despite the claimed intention of helping more patients, Shkreli was slammed by medical groups who protested the sharp price increase.
"Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) is currently part of the recommended first line treatment regimen for toxoplasmosis in HIV-infected patients and is a critical component of most of the alternative regimens," said The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association released a joint statement. This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system.”
Despite the intense criticism, Shkreli seemed unfazed. “The media backlash is not something I take too seriously. Half the country doesn’t like drug companies. The other half of the country doesn’t care,” he told ABC, according to Forbes. “But in terms of the business it’s been a wonderful move.”