Compounder targets Turing's now-pricey Daraprim with $1-per-pill alternative

Earlier this week, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called on the FDA to speed copycat versions of the now-notorious toxoplasmosis med Daraprim to market. Now, a compounding pharmacy has stepped up with its own alternative to the med--at about $1 per pill, a tiny fraction of the cost of Turing Pharmaceuticals' brand, which runs $750 per tablet after a widely publicized 5000%-plus price increase.

San Diego, CA-based Imprimis ($IMMY) says it will offer a compounded drug that includes Daraprim's active ingredient--pyrimethamine--in capsules starting at $99 for a 100-count bottle. The company is also starting a program to work with payers, pharmacy benefits managers and purchasing groups to offer patient-specific formulations "at prices that ensure accessibility."

It's Imprimis' answer to the question many have been asking since Turing CEO Martin Shkreli became the poster child for egregious drug-price increases. Why isn't a generic alternative available for the 62-year-old Daraprim brand?

The compounded drug isn't an exact copy; it also includes the ingredient leucovorin, which Imprimis says helps to combat pyrimethamine's negative effects on bone marrow. "The move is in response to Turing's recent price hike from $13.50 a table to $750," the company noted in a statement.

Imprimis CEO Mark Baum

But Imprimis' ambitions extend beyond offering a Daraprim alternative, CEO Mark Baum said in the statement. Its new Imprimis Cares program will zero in on other high-priced older meds.

"This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug--especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim--has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable," Baum said, promising that Imprimis will "soon identify" additional compounded versions of newly expensive treatments.

Imprimis will have its work cut out for it to market the compounded meds, however. After the meningitis outbreak linked to the New England Compounding Center, new regulations tightened up on distribution of compounded drugs, which aren't specifically approved by the FDA. Compounded meds can only be dispensed on specific prescriptions for specific patients, rather than distributed in bulk as FDA-approved products are.

The company's pyrimethamine-plus-leucovorin combination can be ordered directly, an Imprimis spokesman said, with a physicians' prescription. Imprimis Cares is designed to streamline that process.

- read the Imprimis release

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