October 22, 2015 / 5:15 PM / 4 years ago

Imprimis offers $1 alternative to Turing's $750 pill

Oct 22 (Reuters) - A specialty drugmaker said it would sell for less than $1 a version of Daraprim, an anti-infective drug at the heart of allegations of “price gouging” involving Turing Pharmaceuticals after it hiked the price by over 5,000 percent to $750 a pill.

The 62-year-old Daraprim is sold in the United States by the tiny Turing, whose controversial CEO Martin Shkreli has become the face of industry profiteering after bumping up the drug’s price to $750 from $13.50 a pill after buying it in August.

San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Thursday it was offering a customizable compounded formulation of the costly drug in the form of an oral capsule. The company develops compounded medications for prescription drugs that do not meet the specific needs of a patient. (bit.ly/1W7xsEa)

Unlike Daraprim, Imprimis’s formulation in itself is not FDA approved, and can only be used when prescribed by a doctor for a particular patient.

Daraprim is used to fight toxoplasmosis, the second leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates about one million people in the U.S. are infected annually with the parasite.

The United States has no price controls on medicines even though such caps are common in Europe.

Last week, Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceutical International Inc disclosed that its pricing and other practices were under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York and Massachusetts.

Valeant has attracted attention with several high-profile drug price hikes, including that of heart medication Isuprel, which it has increased eightfold since acquiring it in 2013.

U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Democratic lawmakers have criticized price hikes in the U.S. drug industry, triggering a selloff in the life sciences sector. (Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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