This weekly column offers opinions on the latest pharmaceutical industry news.
Martin Shkreli, the pharma bad boy who everyone loves to hate, is gaming the system again.
In his latest maneuver, Shkreli led an investor group that last month bought a majority stake in a drug maker called KaloBios. The South San Francisco-based company was developing cancer drugs. But under Shkreli’s control, KaloBios quickly purchased the rights to a half-century-old medicine for treating Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can cause life-threatening heart problems. The drug, called benznidazole, is standard treatment in South and Central America, where the disease is most common. But in the United States, no therapy for Chagas disease has ever been sold.
KaloBios plans to seek regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration in about a year. And if approved, Shkreli, who gained notoriety at Turing Pharmaceuticals for his price-gouging tactics, is expected to jack up the cost of benznidazole for the US market more than 100-fold — to a price on par with expensive hepatitis C treatments that cost anywhere from $63,000 to $95,000, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.