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Clinton and Social Media Wrath Prompts Pharma CEO to Roll Back Drug Price

A torrent of Twitter wrath convinces Martin Shkreli to lower the price of a common, life-saving drug after he hiked it 5,000 percent.

by Liz Fields
Sep 23 2015, 3:31pm

Photo via Getty

Martin Shkreli became one of the most hated men on social media after news broke that the pharmaceutical boss had jacked up the price of a life-saving drug by more than 5,000 percent overnight. The Internet's collective outrage worked.

The Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO announced Tuesday night he would lower the consumer cost of the drug Daraprim to a price to be determined in coming weeks. Daraprim is a common anti-parasitic drug used to prevent malaria and fight infections like toxoplasmosis that can arise from AIDS and cancer.

Shkreli's announcement was a major backflip for the 32-year-old who had raised the cost of the drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill after purchasing it from Impax Laboratories in August.

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

When social media scorn first surfaced online, Shkreli responded with sarcastic quips. He defended his decision to hike prices by insisting his company "needed to turn a profit on the drug," despite the fact that the pill costs less than a dollar to manufacture.

 Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said it was the public feedback pushed him to reverse course. 

"Yes it is absolutely a reaction — there were mistakes made with respect to helping people understand why we took this action," Shkreli told NBC News. "I think that it makes sense to lower the price in response to the anger that was felt by people."

As well as a torrent of Twitter wrath, the CEO got flack from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association, which sent a joint letter to Turin this week urging the company to lower Daraprim prices.

"This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system," the groups wrote.

Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also weighed in, saying the new price was "outrageous" and accusing the CEO of "price gouging."

On Twitter, Clinton responded to Shkreli's reversal with just one word: "Good."