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Pharmaceutical Company CEO Defends 5,000% Price Hike of Drug on Twitter

Shkreli insisted that his company "needed to turn a profit on the drug" despite the pill costing less than a dollar to manufacture, and said it was not his fault if people who needed the drug could no longer afford it.

by Olivia Becker
Sep 21 2015, 8:50pm

Imagen vía Flickr

UPDATE: Turing Pharmaceuticals has reportedly said it will lower the cost of its drug Daraprim following public backlash over the 5,000 percent price hike.

The 32-year-old CEO and founder of a pharmaceutical startup took to Twitter to staunchly defend himself from a barrage of criticism after it was revealed that his company had raised the price of a common medication by 5,000 percent.

Immediately after Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to the drug Daraprim, a common anti-parasitic drug that is used to prevent malaria and fight infections like toxoplasmosis that can arise from AIDS and cancer, the company hiked the price up from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The company and its CEO Martin Shkreli quickly became the subject of a furious backlash.

Related: This Is How Drug Companies Jack Up Their Prices and Hurt Patients

Shkreli not only seemed unbothered by the outcry, he appears to be actively enjoying the attention online. Take his reply to one exchange in which he was asked how he manages to sleep at night:

In another response, Shkreli said it was not his fault if people who needed the drug could no longer afford it. He also quoted a lyric from the rapper Eminem about his feelings toward the media. He tweeted more than 125 responses to people calling him out online on Monday after the price increase gained traction over the weekend, noted Tech Crunch, but later deleted many of them.

Shkreli also defended his company's price hike on Bloomberg TV on Monday, insisting that his company "needed to turn a profit on the drug" despite the pill costing less than a dollar to manufacture.

"Its still underpriced compared to its peers," Shkreli added. 

A former hedge-fund manager, Shkreli has come under scrutiny in the past for accusations that he attempted to illegally manipulate the prices of drugs made by companies whose stock he was shorting.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928

Photo via Flickr