AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Maria Wingard, of Austintown, dropped off a new prescription at the pharmacist on Monday and found out her cost would be $35,000.
She was getting the drug Daraprim (Pyrimethamine) for a treatment to last two to three weeks. She did not know that on the day she handed in the script, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG had raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill.
“Traditionally, this has been the go-to drug since the 1950s for toxoplasmosis,” said Wingard.
That means Daraprim is the generic version of the drug, and no cheaper alternatives are available. That left Maria and her husband wondering if they could afford her treatment for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can cause serious or even life-threatening symptoms in newborn infants whose mothers are infected and those with compromised immune systems. Daraprim is also used by some HIV, AIDS and cancer patients.
“I’m the lucky one. Mine is only for toxoplasmosis,” Wingard said. “People are on this pill for cancer. Can you imagine being on this pill for years? That would be horrible.”
Maria has been working with her infectious disease doctor and pharmacist to find an alternative treatment for the infection.
She posted a YouTube video of a letter she wrote to Turing Pharmaceuticals AG CEO Martin Shkreli asking for a price drop. She told Skrekli her hope is “that a chemist comes up with a duplicate drug that will replace yours and put you out of business.”