Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund manager turned pharmaceutical CEO who came to prominence after his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, hiked the price of the lifesaving drug Daraprim, finds himself under threat from a traditional ally: the free market.
Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based compounding pharmaceutical company, announced it would sell a Daraprim competitor containing the same active ingredients, pyrimethamine and leucovorin. The company plans to sell a 100-capsule bottle for $99 or about 99 cents per pill, the Associated Press reported.
As a compounding company, Imprimis does not develop new drugs but primarily repurposes products already on the market to suit individual prescriptions, for example, if the mass market version does not come in liquid form or in smaller dosages. According to CEO Mark Baum, the Daraprim spin-off is just the beginning.
"We are looking at all of these cases where the sole-source generic companies are jacking the price way up," Baum told the Associated Press. "There'll be many more of these" compounded drugs coming in the near future.
And far from a charity case, Baum told Business Insider he expected to make "tremendous profit" with the new pricing.
Drug pricing exploded into the public consciousness after a New York Times exposé in September found that after his company acquired the rights to it in August, Shkreli raised the cost of Daraprim in a flash from $13.50 per tablet to $750. The drug is critical for treating toxoplasmosis, a rare and potentially life-threatening infection.
The reaction against Shkreli was swift with the Internet coalescing in a furious condemnation of the move. Both leading Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, seized on the issue as well, with Sanders using his Senate perch to initiate a federal investigation, and Clinton going directly to the vox populi.
The controversy also spurred increased interest in Shkreli himself. In an exclusive for Mic, Eve Peyser wrote about her experience with him when they accidentally matched on the dating app Tinder. Others had a field day after Shkreli made a seemingly incongruous $2,700 donation to Sanders' presidential campaign — which Sanders promptly disavowed and donated to a Washington, D.C.-based health clinic.
Internet sleuths dug into Shkreli's past revealing a troubled history at a previous biotech company called Retrophin, where he also served as CEO. The company ultimately ousted Shkreli, accusing him of untoward personal gain and brought suit against him for $65 million. "Shkreli was the paradigm faithless servant," they wrote. "Starting sometime in early 2012, and continuing until he left the company, Shkreli used his control over Retrophin to enrich himself."
"Shkreli was the paradigm faithless servant."
During another spat, Shkreli also repeatedly harassed Retrophin employee Timothy Pierotti and his family, telling his wife in a letter, "I hope to see you and your four children homeless and will do whatever I can to assure this."
After days of withering criticism, Shkreli announced he would lower the price of Daraprim by an unnamed amount at some point in the future; as of this writing, he has not done so.
Mic reached out to Shkreli, who was unavailable for comment Friday morning.
Correction: Oct. 23, 2015
An earlier version of this article referred to Daraprim as an antibiotic. Daraprim is an antiparasitic and treats protozoal, not bacterial, infections.