Price gouging for a tuberculosis drug may have been walked back, but the CEO of another pharmaceutical company is standing firm with his decision to drastically raise the price of a drug that treats the potentially deadly parasitic infection toxoplasmosis. Turing Pharmaceutical's Martin Shkreli—an ex-hedge fund manager who snatched up the patent last month for the toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim, then proceeded to hike the price from $13.50 per pill to $750—apparently did the same thing last year as CEO of Retrophin, which boosted the price of kidney medication Thiola from $1.50 to $30 per pill, Slate reports. Turing is using the same M.O. to justify the exorbitant price increase as Retrophin did, claiming the money's needed for long-neglected R&D.
The Independent notes that reaction has been swift and fierce, coming from everyone from Hillary Clinton and the Infectious Diseases Society to Bernie Sanders and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who wrote a letter together to Turing demanding specific info about the price hike and asking for the company's gross revenues from Daraprim. Shkreli was also taken to task by commentators on Twitter, including industry expert John Carroll, editor of FierceBiotech, who asked Shkreli point blank Sunday morning how he could justify a move that boosted Daraprim's price "5000%." Shkreli's pointed response: "You are such a moron," adding later that day that Carroll is "just a bad journalist who doesn't check facts or think logically." After more back-and-forth, another journalist jumped in and asked Shkreli, "how do u manage to sleep at night?" The drug chief suggested his conscience is clear by offering a flippant "you know, ambien."