As background: Turing Pharma, the crew that raised the price of the antimalarial pyrimethamine (Daraprim) from $13.50 to $750 earlier this year because, you know, they could, announced that it would cut the new price. Somewhat.
But wait! Turing's had a change of heart. The price is staying exactly where it is. There'll be a cap on what hospitals and patients pay, but the rest will funnel through straight to insurers, so you know who'll pay in the end.
Let's be clear: pharmaceuticals are a good thing. Like many people I know, I'd probably be dead without the pharma industry. I've consulted to the pharmaceutical industry. But people who take an antiparasitic medication six decades old and ratchet the price up by a factor of more than 55 are a pack of arbitrageurs, not a drug company. Turing may have an R&D program, but I suspect most of it goes on developing chutzpah.
An economist would tell you that the market will step in, and, fortunately, that's what's happened: the compounding chemists at specialty pharma company Imprimis have whipped up a me-too that they're selling for 99 cents a capsule. So patients dodged a mosquito this time. But the problem isn't that the market might step in. The problem is that the regulators will step in. Hillary managed to write to the FDA, the FTC, make a campaign video and announce an impending Detailed Plan in less time than it might take you to develop symptoms of toxoplasmosis (which is another thing Turing's drug is used for).
Regulation works when everyone - patients, providers, insurers, drug companies and the whole kit and caboodle - can pursue conflicting and overlapping interests in a way that gives the least worst overall outcome. But, for that to work, regulation has to be considered and judicious. Turing Pharma's behaviour will provoke retaliatory regulation. I don't know who will really lose when the chips are down, and I don't think pharma companies are perfectly regulated as it is. But, by pulling off this outrageous arbitrage, Turing is harming an industry it doesn't even belong to.