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This guy's drug company upped the price of a life-saving tablet from $13.50 to $700

Martin Shkreli says its about investing in research and development.

A US INVESTOR is at a centre of a growing storm after his pharmaceutical company raised by the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 a tablet to $700 a tablet overnight.

Daraprim is used to fight toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be fatal in AIDS patients or other vulnerable people, and cost only about $1 a tablet a few years ago.

The drug was first approved in the US in 1953 and had been made by GlaxoSmithkline until its US rights were sold to CorePharma in 2010. The New York Times reports that the price of Daraprim the “rose sharply” after CarePharma acquired it.

Tweet by @Martin Shkreli Source: Martin Shkreli/Twitter

Last month the US licence to the drug, known generically as pyrimethamine, was sold on to Turing Phamaceuticals which then increased the price of a tablet by 5085% from $13.50 to $700.

The increase has focused pressure on the practice of pharmaceutics buying and selling the rights to life-saving drugs with even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighing-in against it.

But Turing’s CEO Martin Shkreli has defended his company’s actions and says he will not be reducing the price.

He claims that Turing is a new and relatively small company that will reinvest its profits into research and devlopement.

“There’s a lot of people who die from toxoplasmosis every year and this field desperately needs new ways to treat toxoplasmosis,” Turing told CNBC News.

“We also feel that this is the more appropriate price from Daraprim. At this price Daraprim is still actually on the low end of what orphan drugs cost and we’re certainly not the first company to raise drug prices.”

Shkreli also says that the drug itself is not one that patients must take continually as part of treatment and that it is “pretty reasonable” that companies should be able to make a profit.

PastedImage-84484 Source: CNBC

“At the end of the day there have been much larger price increases by much larger companies, you would argue that most multi-billion dollar companies don’t need to do something like this. Turing is a very small company, we’re a new company and we’re not a profitable company.”

Turing raised $90 million in capital before it purchased the rights to Daraprim and Shkreli says they have a right to get a return on their investment.

“We defintely planned on raising the price that’s for sure. We paid a very very large amount for an unprofitable medicine, we can’t continue to lose the money at that price. ”

Read: ‘Sure you’re grand now, your hair has grown back’, the PTSD of surviving cancer >

Read: The government will fund life-prolonging treatment for a terminal cancer patient >

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Rónán Duffy

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