SAN DIEGO, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A San Diego-based company announced it plans to sell a $1-per-pill alternative to Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis made by Turing Pharmaceuticals, which hiked up the price by 5,000 percent.
Imprimis Pharmaceuticals said its cheaper version of the drug -- a compounded formulation of pyrimethamine and leucovorin -- is available for $99 for a bottle of 100 oral capsules.
The medication treats malaria and toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the world's most common parasites. Patients with weakened immune systems, like those with AIDS and cancer, are particularly susceptible to the disease.
When Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired Daraprim in August, it immediately increased the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 each, prompting outrage on social media, particularly among AIDS activists and politicians.
Shkreli defended the price increase at the time, saying the drug is so rarely used the impact on the health system would be negligible. He said Turing would use the profits to develop improved treatments for toxoplasmosis with fewer side effects.
Mark Baum, CEO of Imprimis, said in response to the price hike of Daraprim -- and others like it -- his company created a program to manufacture hard-to-acquire drugs at more accessible prices.
"While we have seen an increase in costs associated with regulatory compliance, recent generic drug price increases have made us concerned and caused us to take positive action to address an opportunity to help a needy patient population," he said. " While we respect Turing's right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim, for patients, physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to consider.
"Today, some drug prices are simply out of control and we believe we may be able to help control costs by offering compounded alternatives to several sole source legacy generic drugs."
Baum said the company and its new program, Imprimis Cares, intends to work with physicians and patients to provide affordable access to some 7,800 generic FDA-approved drugs.
"Imprimis Cares, available in all 50 states, will work with all third party insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and buying groups to offer its patient specific customizable compounded drug formulations at prices that ensure accessibility and that provide a reasonable profit for Imprimis," he said.
Andrew V. Pestano contributed to this report.