Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug maker that became notorious for boosting the price of its drug Daraprim by over 5,000%, said Tuesday that it would offer discounts of up to 50% to hospitals.
The move will allow patients in emergency need to receive reduced price access to the drug, though a dose of Daraprim will still remain much higher priced than previously. Turing raised the price of Daraprim to $750 per pill in August from $13.50 each.
Daraprim is a life-saving treatment for toxoplasmosis, a food-borne illness, that primarily affects immunocompromised people, especially those battling AIDS and cancer.
Turing hasn’t confirmed if the current list price changed for the drug, either in its release or in response to Fortune’s request for comment. CEO Martin Shkreli said in September that the company would cut the price by the end of the year, but didn’t confirm by how much.
The current price cut would apply to any patient receiving Daraprim at a participating hospital, which Turing says are the first to treat about 80% of patients with toxoplasmosis. Any continuation of reduced-cost therapy beyond hospital walls would require special approval through a patient access program, or he or she would need to pay the full price (or insurance co-pay, at the very least).
The privately-held biopharmaceutical company said it will expand distribution partnerships and patient access programs so that those who need to the drug will be able to get it. However, such patient access programs are often opaque and lack regulatory oversight to know how extensively they are helping patients. Only about 4% of these programs disclosed how many patients they had helped directly, and half wouldn’t reveal their income eligibility criteria, according to a study in Health Affairs.
“I can tell you from real life experience, it’s not like going on Amazon. It’s not an easy experience to get any patient that needs it enrolled in these programs,” Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told Fortune in September. “Is it about helping patients or is it about optics. There’s a mix there.”
Turing has continued to say that it’s “committed to helping physicians provide prompt and affordable treatment for toxoplasmosis.” Last week, the Texas AIDS Drug Assistance Program Advisory Committee added Daraprim to its recommended list of drugs, and Turing said it would sell the medicine to the program for $1 per 100-count bottle.