Martin Shkreli
Martin Shkreli of New York start-up, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raises price of drug used to treat life-threatening infections from £9 to £484 per pill.Getty Images

A pharmaceutical start-up owner is facing criticism for raising the price of a drug used to treat life-threatening infections, such as Aids, from £9 to £484 per pill. Martin Shkreli, 32, of New York start-up, Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the rights to the drug Daraprim, also known as pyrimethamine, before hiking its price by nearly 5,000%.

Daraprim is a 62-year-old drug used for the treatment of infections, like malaria, toxoplasmosis and HIV.

Shkreli has received heavy criticism from specialists in infectious disease, including a letter from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association.

"Please help us improve public health by immediately implementing a rational and fair pricing strategy for pyrimethamine that keeps treatment for a potentially fatal condition accessible to our patients," read the letter, reported The Independent.

The organisations called Shkreli's price rise, "unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population."

Meanwhile, Shkreli defended his decision by assuring the extra funds will go towards toxoplasmosis research and development.

A Turing spokesman has also said that uninsured patients urgently requiring the drug will have free-of-charge options, reported Techdirt.

Several others came to Shkreli's rescue over social media.

Nevertheless, critics remain in doubt."What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?" said Dr Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, reported The New York Times.

"[The price increase might force hospitals to use] 'alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy."