A former hedge fund manager has come under international condemnation after purchasing the rights to a 62-year-old drug treatment, currently used to treat AIDS patients – and increasing the price by 5500% from $13.50 per pill to an expensive $750.
Martin Shkreli has come under fire from the media and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after purchasing the rights to the drug Daraprim in august for $55 million.
Speaking earnestly to Bloomberg, Shkreli admitted the price hike was purely motivated by profit, saying the drug company ‘needed to turn a profit on the drug‘ at the expense of dying patients.
Since the announcement, people across social media have criticized the price increase, but Shkreli has backed the decision.
‘This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business,’ Shkreli said, according to Raw Story.
He added that many patients use the drug for less than a year and that the price is on par with drugs similar that are used to treat rare diseases.
Since his company acquired the drug, Shkreli has urged the importance of improving Daraprim and said drugs need to be developed for treating neglected tropical diseases.
Shkreli said that the proceeds from the newly high-priced Daraprim will be used to research better treatments and raise awareness for toxoplasmosis.,an opportunistic parasitic infection that can cause serious and life-threatening problems.
The disease primarily in babies and people with compromised immune systems, including AIDS and cancer patients.
As the drug has been passed from one pharmaceutical company to another, the price has steadily increased from $1 to $13.50. But when Shkreli acquired the drug, he increased the price by almost 5,500 per cent.
Fierce Biotech editor John Carroll was one of the first people to ask Shkreli to explain why he chose to up the price.
In the heated exchange, Shkreli first said that it was ‘a great business decision that also benefits all of our stakeholders’, but didn’t provide further information.
Instead, Shkreli insulted Carroll several times, calling him ‘a moron’, ‘irrelevant’, and someone who doesn’t ‘think logically’.
At one point, Shkreli, when referring to Carroll, said he didn’t ‘expect the likes of you to process’ his explanation for upping the price of Darapram.
Even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton jumped into criticize the price hike, calling it ‘outrageous’.
‘Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I’ll lay out a plan to take it on. -H,’ she Tweeted on Monday.
Clinton plans to unveil a plan this week to cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs. She alluded to her plan in public remarks on Monday and said she will spell it out in more detail at a health-care forum in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.