A San Diego healthcare firm is challenging notorious drug company Turing, which introduced a 5,000% price increase on an infection pill linked to cancer and HIV infections, by offering the same drug for $1. The firm, called Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, announced it is developing an almost identical pill.
Turing boss Martin Shkreli bought the rights to the Daraprim drug and in September 2015, it became known that the price of the pill was to increase from $13.50 (£8.77, €12.16) per pill to $750 (£486.46, €675.80).
As Shkreli holds the patent to the drug, the San Diego firm uses pyrimethamine and leucovorin, the two main active ingredients in the Daraprim pill. The firm's chief also hinted that it would create more challenger drugs in the future.
"We are looking at all of these cases where the sole-source generic companies are jacking the price way up," Imprimis CEO Mark Baum said to the AP. "There'll be many more of these."
However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the combination of the two ingredients pyrimethamine and leucovorin in one drug for Iprimis, but it sells the pills in separate capsules, which are for sale for $99 per 100 on its website.
Shkreli's Turing bought the rights to the drugs for $55 million (£35.7m, €49.6m). Daraprim is actually 62 years old, but the private healthcare system in the US enables the firm to able to buy patent.
"If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don't think that that should be a crime," Shkreli has said in the past to defend the actions of his firms.
Prices in the US are unregulated, but the challenger job is likely to hit Turing's Daraprim pill, making the cheaper alternative more accessible for patients.
Correction: This article was altered to reflect the fact that the Daraprim pill is targeting specific infections rather than cancer and HIV directly.