This Company Said They’d Import Daraprim From Brazil For $10 Then Vanished

Journalist:
October 7, 2015

Daraprim has become a popular pharmaceutical medication in recent weeks thanks to Martin Shkreli’s decision to increase the price of the drug from $13.50 to $750.  The medicine is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

The drug was originally developed to combat malaria and has been available since 1953. The market for the medicine is so small that no generic manufacturer has started making it.

Shkreli, an American hedge fund manager, and entrepreneur, is the founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG. He ultimately announced the price of the drug his firm bought the marketing rights for would be lowered from the 5,500% increase. Shkreli claimed on news networks that, while the price would increase, co-pays would be lowered. He also said many patients would receive the drug
at no cost.
In the midst of the daraprim controversy, one company began selling the drug for bitcoins from Brazil. But, they immediately vanished. We interviewed Pete, the person who responded to the Contact US form on the now-defunct website.

“We are using the internet to reduce the distance between medicine suppliers and patients,” said Pete (that’s the only ID he would give us), the individual who responded to our inquiry to Import Daraprim.

“In today’s markets anyone can check the prices online and figure out how to make the best purchase,” he said. “Why not offer the same service for patients in need of extremely expensive medicines?

“We have access to many different and inexpensive meds in Brazil, and we want to help American consumers to buy if at a much lower cost,” he added. It seems we now have some heroes in the villain-filled saga of Turing Pharmaceuticals. When we asked if the company has any experience in the medical field, Pete told us they did, but that they could not divulge too much information about themselves.

“We have experience in the medical industry in Brazil, but we can’t disclose any more information to protect our identities,” he said. When I ask if this service is legal, Pete points me towards a page on the FDA website, which reads:

In most circumstances, it is illegal for individuals to import drugs into the United States for personal use. This is because drugs from other countries that are available for purchase by individuals often have not been approved by FDA for use and sale in the United States. For example, if a drug is approved by Health Canada (FDA’s counterpart in Canada) but has not been approved by FDA, it is an unapproved drug in the United States and, therefore, illegal to import. FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs that it has not approved.

FDA, however, has a policy explaining that it typically does not object to personal imports of drugs that FDA has not approved under certain circumstances, including the following situation:

  • The drug is for use for a serious condition for which effective treatment is not available in the United States;
  • There is no commercialization or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents;
  • The drug is considered not to represent an unreasonable risk;
  • The individual importing the drug verifies in writing that it is for his or her own use, and provides contact information for the doctor providing treatment or shows the product is for the continuation of treatment begun in a foreign country; and
  • Generally, not more than a 3-month supply of the drug is imported.

What does Pete, who had the idea in the wake of the Shkreli controversy, think about the American hedge fund manager’s plan to increase the price of the drug?

“I believe they have a reason to jack up the prices. I just don’t know why,” he tells me. He also tells me that the problem does not hinge on one person’s decision to increase the drug price, but rather systemic issues in healthcare.

“You can have access to multiple, maybe thousands of meds at a much lower cost in Brazil, India, etc,” Pete told me. “It’s unfair that Americans have to pay 100x more for the same product. It’s even immoral to charge that much for a life saving med.” So, why did the company chose Bitcoin?

“We need to keep ourselves anonymous,”

The company had just had their first sale when CCN contacted Import Daraprim, according to Pete and this screenshot:

The company was optimistic for its future. “We expect more and more people to have access to cheaper meds. Hopefully, this will be shared and shared and shared,” Pete said.

But then the company vanished, and now their website is a GoDaddy landing page. Numerous queries to Pete went unanswered.

Last modified (UTC): October 7, 2015 21:46

Tags: Bitcoin