His drug company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, recently bought the rights to Daraprim, a drug that’s been around for over 60 years and is the standard treatment for toxoplasmosis, which affects up to half the world’s population, especially people with HIV or who are otherwise immunocompromised. His company has since changed the price of Daraprim pills, which are said to cost $1 each to manufacture, from $13.50 each to $750, making him Big Pharma’s biggest a-hole, a field in which the competition is pretty serious.
It turns out that the Daraprim fiasco is just another data point in a long pattern of pharma profiteering über alles:
- He’s not new to unseemly financial activity. At his first job, he interned for stock market huckster Jim “Mad Money” Cramer, where he underwent his first SEC investigation after a rather successful short of a biotech stock at the tender age of 19.
- Nor is he new to drug and biotech profiteering. He has time and again been called out by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) for illegally manipulating biotech and pharma stock prices and inserting himself into the Food and Drug Administration’s drug approval process for financial gain.
- This isn’t his first price gouging. In 2014, the biotech company he founded, Retrophin, acquired the rights to Thiola, which is used to treat an incurable kidney disease and raise its price by over 20 times.
- Last year, Retrophin — and remember, he’s a founder — fired him. he was fired from Retrophin, the biotech company he founded, for all manner of “stock irregularities” including disguising legal settlements with former investors as “consulting agreements”, and using company cash to resolve legal claims against himself and a hedge fund he ran. They also sued him. In February of this year, Retrophin filed a preliminary report of his wrongdoings with the SEC.
And he’s not afraid to make it personal, either.
It was filed by one Timothy Pierotti, a former colleague of Shkleri’s at Retrophin turned business rival. The report is about a year-long campaign of harrassment by Shkleri, which included:
- Stalking Pierotti and his family,
- sending nasty texts, emails, and social media messages to Pierotti, his wife, and even his teenaged children, and
- Gaining access to Pierotti’s Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts and making damaging posts.
Shkreli sued Pierotti, whose lawyers filed documents saying that Shkreli sent threatening messages to Pierotti’s wife, such as letters saying “I hope to see you and your four children homeless and will do whatever I can to assure this”…
Epilogue (for now)
At the time of this writing, Shkreli has announced that they’ll lower the price of Daraprim:
You may also want to check out this article by Kurt Eichenwald (he wrote Microsoft’s Lost Decade for Vanity Fair back in 2012): Man Who Hiked AIDS Drug 5,000 Percent Faces Investigation for His Old Job.
Also worth checking out is TheStreet.com’s Worst CEOs in Biotech for 2014, and guess who’s on the list: