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Pharmaceutical Firms Back Off Big Price Hikes Following Critical Coverage

The price of a 62-year-old generic drug used on patients with weak immune systems won't jump from $13.50 per pill to $750 after all, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO announced Tuesday.

Martin Shkreli told NBC News that the move was a reaction to "the anger that was felt by people" after the New York Times covered the price increase, and others like it, earlier this week. Another company which acquired a drug used to treat multi-resistant tuberculosis also has backed off a planned twentyfold price increase following the story, choosing instead to return the drug to its previous owner.

Shkreli, who had defiantly defended the price hike before giving in, has not said what the new price will be. His company acquired the drug for $55 million in August.

The 32-year-old CEO had argued that the price increase was necessary to keep the taxoplasmosis drug financially viable, and that profits would be channeled into research and awareness campaigns for the illness.

His aggressive stance brought scrutiny of his professional history from The Times and Gawker. The Times coverage also spurred Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to roll out her prescription drug plan on Tuesday. CNN reported some of the details, which included targeting what Clinton called "price-gouging" on specialty drugs:

"Clinton outlined a plan that would reform the way drug companies do business, particularly by stopping them from spending government grants on advertising and by allowing Medicare — and the U.S. government — to negotiate down prescription drug costs. ... Clinton's new plan will also tweak Obamacare's mandate on insurance companies, requiring that they limit the amount of money someone can spend monthly on prescription drugs to $250."

Many biotech stocks dropped following Clinton's comments.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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