It was the price increase that grabbed headlines around the world. The drug Daraprim, often used by AIDS patients, saw its cost skyrocket by more than 5,000 percent overnight. Time Warner Cable News reporter Sarah Blazonis shares how some say this is an extreme example that highlights a disturbing trend.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sixty million: that's how many Americans the CDC estimates play host to the parasite Toxoplasma. Healthy people rarely have symptoms, but for those with compromised immune systems, it's a different story.
"The most common site for this infection is the central nervous system or the brain, and infections in this site are particularly unforgiving," said Thomas Russo, a professor of medicine, microbiology, and immunology at the University at Buffalo.
The drugmaker Turing Pharmaceuticals drew outrage when it announced it raised the price of Daraprim, the drug used to treat such infections. It went from $13.50 per pill to a whopping $750 per pill.
"This is a generic drug, and this individual probably clearly recognized that no other company in the United States has been approved to manufacture this drug, therefore, the price could be adjusted in whatever manner," said Russo.
AIDS patients and pregnant women are among Daraprim's typical users. It helps treat up to 5,000 patients a year, not a huge number, but some say it's significant in more ways than one.
People in the medical field say the biggest impact this price jump could have is on the attention it's bringing to a problem that's running rampant in the pharmaceutical industry.
"This is only one of the medications that we've seen this happen with over the last several years. As a matter of fact, we're also seeing this happen with generic drugs for no apparent reason," said Sheila Arquette, director of pharmacy at Independent Health.
Arquette said part of this is caused by lack of competition among manufacturers as well as stricter FDA regulations.
"Sometimes they have to make adjustments, so they have to invest in their infrastructure. It also may cause manufacturing delays or it may halt production," said Arquette.
Arquette said she'd like to see legislation aimed at manufacturer transparency and putting this issue in the spotlight could help lead to action.
Turing Pharmaceuticals has said it plans to lower Daraprim's new hefty price tag to make it more affordable. No word on what it will ultimately cost.