Love him or hate him, Martin Shkreli, or better known as “Pharma Bro” to the always impartial mainstream media, isn’t as malevolent as the headlines suggest. In fact, after listening to a segment of his recent speech at the Forbes Healthcare Summit, he seems to be just the opposite. To those who don’t feed into sensationalism, Shkreli appears to be just another business owner with the same intention as the next business owner – to maximize profit.
Here is a timeline of events that has turned Martin Shkreli from an average Joe into the “most hated man in America” in a matter of months. Please note: This timeline will be updated for important developments.
Former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli founded the start-up ‘Turing Pharmaceuticals’ after successfully raising over $90M in series-A funding from Shkreli himself, and a number of unnamed benefactors. Turing’s funding marked one of the largest financings for a biotech company in history.
Turing brought on board three assets from Shkreli’s previous start-up, Retrophin, including Vecamyl, a hypertension drug which Turing believes could potentially treat autism.
Turing Pharmaceuticals quickly acquired the U.S. marketing rights to Daraprim, a 62-year-old FDA-approved drug used to treat toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease mainly caused by eating undercooked/contaminated food) for $55 million from Impax Laboratories.
Early September 2015
Within one month of acquiring the rights to Daraprim, Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of the drug from $13.50 to $750 per tablet (a 5000%+ increase).
Late September 2015
The New York Times created a media frenzy after publishing a detailed article on Turing and Shkreli over the company’s decision to hike the price of Daraprim 5000%+ overnight. The article instantly convicted Shkreli as the epitome of an evil capitalist run amuck and earned him the label as the most hated man in America.
Shortly after, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton quickly stepped into the fiasco for political gain, releasing this tweet in response to Turing’s price hike:
Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on. -H https://t.co/9Z0Aw7aI6h
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 21, 2015
Consequently, Clinton’s tweet sent the Nasdaq Biotech Index down nearly 5%.
Around this same period, Shkreli made an appearance on CNBC t0 defend Turing’s decision on the overnight price hike, stating that Turing isn’t the first, nor the last drug company to ever raise drug prices. During the interview, CNBC attempts to smear Shkreli for his decision, but in turn receives a lesson in free market pricing by an expert in the biotech industry. The interview ends on a sour note, with the CNBC anchor asking Shkreli if after all this media attention if he plans on lowering the price, with Shkreli firing back a quick “No”.
Other than trolling Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders hard with a series of memes on Twitter throughout October and asking politicians to come at him in November, Shkreli kept a pretty low profile during these two months.
In DC. If any politicians want to start, come at me. pic.twitter.com/YrxWoSPQ1H
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) November 3, 2015
In an interview with Forbes, when asked how he would re-do the past three months, Shkreli admits that he messed up — and should have raised the price of Daraprim higher. While speaking at the Forbes Healthcare Summit, Shkreli had this to say:
“My shareholders expect me to make the most profit,” Shkreli said, a theme that he returned to again and again. “That’s the ugly, dirty truth.”
A couple days later, news broke that Shkreli won the auction with the highest bid for the “Once upon a Time in Shaolin” single-copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album. His $2 million bid topped hundreds of interested fans, billionaires, and prominent art collectors such as Quentin Tarantino.
On December 17th, Shkreli was arrested by FBI agents at his apartment in midtown NYC on securities-fraud charges unrelated to his new company Turing Pharmaceuticals, or to the recent drug price spike of Daraprim. Washington Post reported that Federal prosecutors accused Shkreli of running his old business, Retrophin, like a ‘ponzi scheme’, misleading old investors by covering up his bad investments made as a hedge fund manager with cash injections from his biotech company. In a pinned Tweet, Shrekli states that he is confident he will prevail, as the charges brought against him are baseless and without merit.
Martin Shkreli is freed from authorities after posting a $5 million bond. Court documents show he used his $45 million E*Trade account to secure the bail.
On Friday December 18th, Martin Shkreli resigned as CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals and was replaced by interim CEO Ron Tilles.
In an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo, Shkreli stated he will be pleading the 5th amendment in his upcoming Congressional hearing.
Martin Shkreli clashes with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) on Twitter over his justification for use of the 5th amendment following his arrest and the charges brought against him.
@SenatorCollins I have valid justification. Are you serious? I have constitutional rights. No wonder trust in the US Government is at a low.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) January 21, 2016
On Thursday February 4th, Shkreli repeatedly invoked his 5th amendment right during his Congressional hearing, refusing to give an opening statement or to answer any questions from Rep. Elijah Cummings or Rep. Jason Chaffetz. In the hearing, Both Congressmen painted the actions of Shkreli hiking the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per tablet to $750 overnight as misanthropic and outright cruel.
Shkreli is being represented by Benjamin Brafman, a high-profile established attorney well known in New York and throughout the nation for having represented Sean Diddy Combs, Michael Jackson, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the past.
Despite pleading the 5th throughout the short-lived hearing, Shkreli rushed to Twitter to voice his opinion on the representatives who questioned him.
Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016
Be sure to check back in for further developments!