Former Turing exec to Senate panel: We warned Shkreli about Daraprim price hike
- During a Senate hearing Thursday, a former senior vice president and general counsel of Turing Pharma told senators that he and other executives warned former CEO Martin Shkreli against raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent. Shkreli, however, dismissed their concerns, saying "no one cares about pricing increases," according to comments reported by Stat.
- The former general counsel, Howard Dorfman, said he was fired not long after cautioning against the sharp price hike, which triggered severe backlash from lawmakers and the public.
- According to Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), sales of Daraprim tablets slumped precipitously from 25,500 to 600 between August and December 2015, allegedly due to the price hike.
Held before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Thursday's hearing gave some background on how Martin Shkreli and Turing approached the infamous 5,000% price increase for Daraprim, a anti-parasitic drug often used by patients with HIV.
Shkreli apparently pushed for the price increase over the objections of Turing's former general counsel and other executives, including the current Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Retzlaff.
In prepared testimony, Dorfman claimed he and others argued the proposed (at the time) price increase would have "a severely negative impact on Turing's business and reputation," especially because of the lack of heavy R&D expenditure. "In this instance, the price increase, as contemplated and subsequently announced, was not justified by any such expenditure," Dorfman said.
Retzlaff later testified in a second panel at the same hearing and said she was "comfortable" with the price increase because of Turing's efforts to ensure access for all patients and its desire to put those profits back into R&D. Turing's actual R&D spending levels are unclear, although Retzlaff stated the company put 60% of net revenue back into research last year.
In the same hearing, Senator McCaskill claimed sales of Daraprim fell dramatically to only 600 units since the price hike. In that time period, San Diego-based compounder Imprimis announced that it had formulated an inexpensive substitute for Daraprim, thereby providing consumers with an alternative option.
Shkreli, who resigned as CEO of Turing in December 2015, was not present at the hearing.