If you have been keeping up with the pharmaceutical industry in recent years, then you may have heard of a little drug called Daraprim. This antiparasitic medication is used to treat malaria and toxoplasmosis among other medical conditions, but its pricing has made headlines more than once. The cost of this lifesaving medicine surged 5,500% overnight in 2015 as a result of price gouging by Turing Pharmaceuticals. So how much does it actually cost to make the millionaire-making drug? Let’s break it down.
The Active Ingredient
Daraprim’s active ingredient is pyrimethamine, which works by disrupting the growth and reproduction of parasites in the body. Pyrimethamine is not exclusive to Daraprim; it is also found in other brands such as Fansidar and Malocide.
According to an FDA Drug Data Report conducted on May 2021, generic versions of pyrimethamine range from $0.15 to $3 for a single tablet depending on the brand or manufacturer.
– Brand name Fansidar costs approximately $100 per pill
– Brand name Malocide costs over $365 per pill
This raises some interesting questions about why exactly there has been such a high fluctuation of prices between these drugs throughout time.
Why so cheap?
On one hand, £11 ($14) for six tablets seems pretty reasonable – cheaper than most medicines sold off-prescription – given that without them ‘you’ll be walking like Quasimodo’.
But considering what we already know about certain brands being far pricier when purchasing chemist-bought generics (i.e., ones available at pharmacies rather than via prescription), should accessing medicine really require internet-savvy bargain-hunting skills?
While we’re talking infectious diseases here: hepatitis C patients still face paying around £50,000 ($63,380+).
The Manufacturing Cost
To understand how much Daraprim actually costs to make versus how much it is sold for, we need to look at the manufacturing process. Manufacturers of pyrimethamine such as GlaxoSmithKline estimate that the active ingredient bears no more than a few cents per tablet (£0.08- £0.04)
So where does all that extra money come from?
Research and Development
Like with many drugs used in medicine, most of the cost goes into research & development before being manufactured en masse thus causing large scale pricing rises when they are eventually commercialised.
According to CNBC back in 2015 -‘…Each prescription tends to bring in about $500 in revenue.’
While there is no published breakdown available for exactly why each strip or packet may be so pricey – small-scale drug production plants can create knockoffs which don’t require this outlay on developing new treatments or testing them.
The thing is, most pharmaceutical companies are essentially working towards creating instruments for disease cessation / amelioration; if you want your patients have access then almost by definition placing high prices (towards breaking even) on these products might not abet their spread/endorsement! From heavy marketing campaigns all round twitter feeds or celebrity endorsements eg Johnson&Johson’s campaign efforts with The Rock/Dwayne Johnson while ultimately noble considering people finally started showering amidst COVID’s wake didn’t function very effectively promotion wise > New York Times would report sales had tanked during pandemic
Medication distributors play another huge part on contributing financials here as well; whilst illicit distribution/internet scams obviously pose an underlooked problem especially among impoverished communities susceptible through lack of education/contextual support networks etc..
Another part of said issue derives from medical product piracy/misrepresentation cough Daraprim cough
While the hike in price of Daraprim seems extremely puzzling, its manufacturing cost is actually very low. Instead, other factors such as research and development costs, marketing efforts, distribution expenses among other things contribute to the inflated retail price. Ultimately it is up to us as consumers or patients advocate for more transparent production line logistics- Especially with providing cheaper access for those who may not be able to afford higher tier treatments – this isn’t just about one drug but many that are needlessly high-priced when they could help people injured their struggle towards bettering their lives.
Hey there, I’m Dane Raynor, and I’m all about sharing fascinating knowledge, news, and hot topics. I’m passionate about learning and have a knack for simplifying complex ideas. Let’s explore together!
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