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Warren takes on Shkreli's 'unethical' pricing

Warren takes on Shkreli's 'unethical' pricing

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach No, the government cannot seize, break or 'bypass' pharmaceutical patents — even for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.) on Thursday came out swinging against top executives at Turing Pharmaceuticals, condemning “unethical” drug pricing under former CEO Martin Shkreli.

The company's pricing practices spurred a national firestorm after it raised the price of a decades-old drug called Daraprim by 5,000 percent overnight.

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The sticker price for Daraprim, used to treat parasitic infections often found in AIDS patients, is now about $750 per pill.

“Almost no patient pays that price,” Turing interim CEO Ronald Tilles said during a heated back-and-forth with Warren at a Senate Aging Committee hearing on Thursday.

“Saying ‘almost’ is not very good if it’s your child who’s in trouble,” Warren said. “You can’t just shove this off. You have people who can’t afford it.”

While Tilles said he could “admit” that the price has gone up, he refused to say the cost increase was unethical.

Shkreli, the company’s former lightning rod CEO, has since stepped down after facing federal fraud charges separate from his work at the company.

Shkreli, who was called to testify at a House committee earlier this year, infuriated lawmakers by smirking during their questions and taking to Twitter to condemn them minutes after he left the hearing room. Much of his former coworkers’ appearance at the Senate on Thursday was doing damage control.

“What’s done is done, but going forward, we will make every effort to improve access,” Tilles said during an exchange with Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Grassley tests positive for coronavirus MORE (D-Va.). “We feel we are moving in a good direction at this point.”

Warren, a frequent critic of “big pharma,” said all drug companies have a responsibility to limit the costs of drugs.

“It was unethical when Turing did it, and it was just as unethical when the rest of the pharmaceutical industry jacks up drug prices, and they routinely did it,” Warren said.