Martin Shkreli: Pharmaceuticals CEO who raised HIV drug price by 5,000% 'also hiked cost of pill taken by children with incurable kidney disease'

During Mr Shkreli's tenure at another firm, the price of cystinuria drug Thiola was reportedly increased by almost 2,000%

The pharmaceuticals CEO that raised the cost of a drug used by Aids sufferers by more than 5,000 per cent also hiked the price of medication taken by children for a rare kidney disease, it has emerged.

Martin Shkreli is currently the chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which has been internationally condemned for its use of Daraprim, which is the only US-approved treatment for toxoplasmosis.

After obtaining the rights to sell the drug in August, Turing increased the price from $13.50 (£9) per pill to $750 (£490) overnight in a move that Hillary Clinton called “outrageous”.

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Martin Shkreli has defended the price increase of Daraprim

Mr Shkreli told ABC News that his company would reduce the cost of Daraprim to make it more accessible on Monday, although he did not say what the new price for the drug would be.

“We've agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit,” he said.

Turing had said it would use profits to improve the drug's formulation and develop new, better drugs for the toxoplasmosis. Daraprim treats patients with compromised immune systems caused by HIV and other conditions.

Who is Martin Shkreli?

But attention is now being drawn to Mr Shkreli’s pricing decisions at his previous pharmaceutical company, Retrophin.

During his time at the firm from 2011 to his resignation in October last year, it acquired the rights to sell Thiola, which is used to treat cystinuria.

Sufferers may take the drug for life, starting in early childhood, in an effort to manage the rare and incurable disease that afflicts about 20,000 patients in the United States.

It causes sufferers' bodies to constantly create kidney stones, causing excruciating pain, severe organ damage and in some cases, death.

Thiola was approved to treat cystinuria by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1988 and was acquired by Retrophin in May 2014.

 

Some patients must take between five to 10 of the tablets every day.

Benjamin Davies, the Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, wrote for The Street in September 2014 that the firm increased the price from $1.50 (£1) per pill to more than $30 (£20) for the same product - an increase of almost 2,000 per cent.

“As a physician, treating cystinuria patients is extremely difficult,” he wrote. “You can remove a kidney stone one day only to have the patient show up the next month with more kidney stones. Cystinuria patients are some of the bravest you will ever meet.”

 

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The Thiola website was down on Wednesday morning

 

Reuters reported that shares of Retrophin Inc jumped as much as 31 per cent following the deal allowing it to market Thiola.

The company’s website describes it as “focused on the development, acquisition and commercialisation of drugs for the treatment of serious, catastrophic or rare diseases for which there are currently no viable options for patients,” before listing Thiola as one of its main products.

“As the only supplier of the drug to the US, Retrophin has increased the price for the drug just because it can,” pharmaceutical finance expert Steve Brozak wrote in Forbes in September 2014.

“Even though it’s a generic drug that any company with development capability could bring to market, there are no alternatives for Thiola on the market…Retrophin (is) turning patients into commodities like barrels of oil.”

The Independent was unable to reach Retrophin for a comment.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters