Hillary vows to fight drug price gouging

Posted at 6:24 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 18:24:46-04

Doctors, patients and some politicians including Hillary Clinton are outraged by a company's decision to raise the price of a lifesaving drug by more than 5,000 percent.

A former hedge fund manager bought the rights to  a drug called Daraprim  that can cure infections common among people with AIDS.  

In a recent CNBC Interview, Turing Pharmaceutical CEO, Martin Shkreli defended his decision to raise the price of an infection fighting drug called Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 dollars per pill even though the drug costs about a dollar to make and has been around since since the '50's.

The story reported in the New York Times prompted Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to tweet, "Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on."

"The system permits him to do this.  It is not a nice thing to do and it has nothing to do with the health and welfare of people who need those incredible drugs" said USF Health professor and health policy expert, Dr. Jay Wolfson.

Wolfson says the trick is balancing the need for pharmaceutical companies to make a profit and invest in new drugs against the need for patients to have access to life saving medicine.

Jarring price hikes aren't limited to AIDS treatments. Common drugs  like the anti-inflammatory, Naproxen have shot up  from $44 dollars a bottle, to $944 dollars  in just a few years.

Dr. Wolfson is skeptical that Hillary Clinton or any other politician can easily solve the problem of pharmaceutical price gouging.

"That's a difficult debate. And it's fraught with lots of political influence and financial influence and it's not going to be settled easily" said Wolfson.
In his defense Martin Shkreli says the higher price will help finance research into making a new improved version of the drug. But some HIV doctors say the current  drug works fine and they don't need another version.