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Turing cuts 5,000% drug price hike to 2,500%

Turing Pharmaceuticals, under fire for raising the price of a drug used by cancer and AIDS patients by 5,000 percent, on Tuesday said it would offer its Daraprim medication to hospitals at what it called a "significant" price cut.

The Swiss company will slash the list price for Daraprim by as much as 50 percent and plans to make smaller bottles of the drug available starting next year to make it more affordable to stock. In addition, Turing will offer sample starter packages at no cost so physicians can start treatment immediately.

"This is an important step in our commitment to ensure ready access to Daraprim at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost for both hospitals and patients," Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, said in a press release. "We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access."

Under Turing's plan, patients with commercial insurance will pay no more than $10 in out-of-pocket expenses for each prescription. Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis encephalitis, which is potentially fatal in people with compromised immune systems. The treatment takes as a long as a year.

Turing CEO Martin Shkreli was widely condemned when he raised the price of the 62-year-old drug in September to $750 a pill from $13.50. The HIV Medicine Association has called on Turing to restore the price of Dararpim, the only drug of its kind, to its original level. A company spokesperson didn't respond to an email requesting comment.

"While Turing continues to promise that all patients who need Daraprim have access to it, physicians will be forced to continue looking for less expensive alternative therapies for their patients with toxoplasmosis," said Dr. Carlos del Rio, the organization's chair, in a statement.

A U.S. Senate committee is investigating the price increases at Turing and other drug companies, with a hearing on the issue scheduled for Dec. 9. U.S. prescription drug prices rose 13.1 percent in 2014, the largest increase since 2003, according to pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts.

"The industry is out of control," Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Global Access to Medicines program, said. "It not policing itself at all, so each company raises the price of the next drug higher than the last."

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