The U.S.’s biggest manager of prescription drug benefits said it will cover a $1-a-capsule alternative to the anti-parasitic treatment Daraprim, which costs $750 a pill after Turing Pharmaceuticals AG raised the drug’s price from $13.50 this year.
St Louis-based Express Scripts said in a statement that it’s partnering with Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based company specializing in compounded drugs. In October, Imprimis started making a medicine for as little as $1 a capsule that includes the active ingredient in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, together with a vitamin called leucovorin that Daraprim is usually used with.
Turing’s price increase for Daraprim, a decades-old drug that no longer enjoys patent protection, drew outrage from politicians, doctors and health insurers. By having a compounding pharmacy combine the two drugs, Express Scripts doesn’t need to wait for an FDA-approved direct competitor to Daraprim to come to market at a lower cost.