After public outcry, CEO drops price of AIDS drug

Martin Shkreli smirks during a television interview as he boasts about his decision to gouge patients.

Martin Shkreli smirks during a television interview as he boasts about his decision to gouge patients.

Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli

CEO Martin Shkreli recently claimed that, in order for his pharmaceutical company to stay afloat, he had to jack up the price Daraprim, a drug used to treat life-threatening parasitic infections, by more than 5,000 percent. Apparently that isn’t true, after all.

Shkreli made headlines this week when he raised the price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet literally overnight. (The tablets cost approximately $1 each to produce.)

“This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients,” he told the New York Times. “It is us trying to stay in business.”

Shkreli quickly found himself on the receiving end of a social media backlash, and was labeled “America’s most hated man” by multiple media outlets. Shkeril’s attitude on Twitter didn’t help his cause, either.

After eight hours of outcry, the 32-year-old ex-hedge-funder has agreed to significantly lower the price.

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

He continued: “It’s very easy to see a large drug price increase and say ‘Gosh, those people must be gouging.’ But when you find out that the company is not really making any money, what does that mean?”

Shkreli went on to say that the situation is “very hard stuff” for non-business people to “understand” and implied that people were getting far too emotionally wrapped up in the whole thing.

“I think in the society we live in today it’s easy to want to villainize people,” he said. “Obviously, we’re in an election cycle where this is very, very tough topic for people and it’s very sensitive. And I understand the outrage.”

Shkreli didn’t say what the new price of Daraprim will be, though he did say he’s concerned it won’t make him much money.

“We’ll know in several weeks how profitable the drug is, if it at all,” he said. “It may turn out that’s it not even profitable at all, even at this price.”

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