Martin Shkreli is adding to his title as the “most hated man in America,” with the unapologetic CEO hiking the price of yet another life-saving drug.
Shkreli, the 32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, made headlines back in September when his company acquired the rights to AIDS drug Daraprim and raised the price by 5,000 percent. The drug, which once cost $13.50 a dose, was hiked up to $750 per pill.
Shkreli defended his move, but then later agreed to lower the price of the drug to an “affordable level.” That price drop never came, and instead Martin Shkreli is raising the price of a different life-saving drug. The controversial CEO has his sights set on a drug treating Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that often strikes in impoverished areas in South America, the New York Times reported.
The disease affects between 6 million and 7 million people each year, many of them poor.
Now, he appears to be doing it again. Martin Shkreli said he wants to take advantage of a federal program encouraging companies to develop drugs for little-treated or neglected diseases.
Shrkeli said he plans to obtain a voucher by getting the drug approved by the FDA to sell in the United States, the New York Times reported. Critics called this an abuse of the system meant to actually develop drugs.
Shkreli said on a conference fall that if his company won FDA approval for benznidazole, the company have exclusive rights for the United States for the next five years. The price — which is between $50 and $100 for a two-month court of treatment — would raise to between $60,000 and $100,000, Gawker reported.
Chagas disease is most common in Central America and is spread by a blood-sucking insect. The disease can be life-threatening if not treated properly.
The CEO has already earned widespread criticism. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders returned a donation to Shkreli, and Republican Donald Trump called him out as well.
No one—including Martin Shkreli—should have the power to price gouge American families. https://t.co/OQBVyXkA8e
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 9, 2015
— Gawker (@Gawker) December 12, 2015
In the face of such criticism, Martin Shkreli has remained defiant, and some accuse him of being arrogant. After many attacked him for the plans to raise the price of Daraprim, Shkreli responded on Twitter by quoting rapper Eminem.
“And it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me. So I point one back at em, but not the index or pinkie,” he wrote, referring to giving the middle finger.
Shkreli later softened his stance, saying he took heed of the criticism, saying they would re-consider the price and noting that the hike was intended to better formulate the drug.
“We’ve agreed to lower the price on Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit,” he told ABC News (via the BBC). “We think these changes will be welcomed.”
The plan also left an opening for competitors. Mark L. Baum, CEO of Imprimis, said his company would offer an alternative for $1 per tablet.
“While we respect Turing’s right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications such as Daraprim… Imprimis is now offering customizable compounded formulations of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in oral capsules starting as low as $99.00 for a 100 count bottle, or at a cost of under a dollar per capsule.”
Martin Shkreli has declined to comment about the latest plans to raise the price of the Chagas drug.
[Image via YouTube/CNBC]