Express Scripts’ low-cost Daraprim to bypass Turing

US health insurance manager Express Scripts says it will be able to supply a low-cost version of anti-parasitic medicine Daraprim, circumventing the high-cost version marketed by Turing.

The decision by Turing’s chief executive Martin Shkreli to increase the price more than 50-fold earlier this year caused outrage in the US and, despite promises to reconsider, Turing’s drug remains high priced.

Turing raised the price of Daraprim to $750 a pill, up from $13.50, after buying the US rights.

Express Scripts has taken a combative approach to pharma prices in recent times, challenging prices of hepatitis C drugs and new cholesterol drugs, and the latest move puts it centre stage again on the thorny issue of prices.

It announced on Tuesday that patients would be able to receive the drug at $1 a capsule from San Diego-based drug compounder Imprimis Pharmaceuticals.

Steven Miller, chief medical officer at Express Scripts told the Wall Street Journal that it could start processing prescriptions as early as this week.

Turing announced last week that it will provide hospitals with discounts of up to 50% on its list price for Daraprim, but is likely to face a virtual boycott, with healthcare providers eager to find alternative suppliers.

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