A leading NHS doctor has spoken out against the former hedge fund manager at the heart of the scandal around a 4,000% increase in the price of a life saving drug.
Dr Mark Lawton, consultant in sexual health and HIV at the Royal Liverpool Hospital has said that it is “disappointing to see a price rise on a drug that's so crucial to patient care”.
Martin Shkreli, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, bought the licence to the drug Daraprim, which combats toxoplasmosis, an infection that can arise in those with poor immune systems.
Having bought the rights to produce it, Shkreli’s start-up business then increased its price by 4100% - from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill, according to the New York Times.
Responding to the furore over his decision to increase the price of pills sold, he tweeted that he will “guarantee better access at lower prices to patients than ever.”
But now Dr Lawton, a member of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, has spoken out at the plans in the context of the implication for patients.
He said: "It is disappointing to see such a high increase in the price of a drug that is so crucial for patient care.
"It isn't like this is a new drug where companies have to recoup the possible millions spent in research and development. Daraprim has been around for a long time."
In the UK, the NHS refers to drugs by their generic names, not as brands like Daraprim, and as drug patents expire, the British market is flooded with cheaper generic alternatives.
However campaign group 38 Degrees says that the Daraprim price hike proves the risk posed to the NHS by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which is currently being negotiated between the European Commission and the United States.
On Facebook, the group wrote that "If the TTIP trade deal goes ahead, US drug laws would apply here in Britain leaving our NHS to pay much higher prices for life-saving drugs."
Daraprim was developed in the 1940s to treat the infection, which is common in children and those who suffer from complications resulting from HIV and AIDS.