How biopharma and media are reacting to Shkreli's arrest
Update: Martin Shkreli has resigned as CEO of Turing Pharamceuticals. The current Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ron Tilles, will take his place as interim CEO.
Reviled. Hated. Pharma's "bad boy."
These are just some of the terms that media outlets and Twitter users deployed regarding Martin Shkreli's arrest by the FBI this morning on securities fraud charges related to his former biotech Retrophin.
Shkreli, who has been amassing notoriety at a NASCAR-level clip in recent months, was kicked out of Retrophin and sued for $65 million by the firm for allegedly using it as a personal piggy bank to finance unrelated business dealings—reportedly the very allegations that led to his arrest by federal authorities Thursday at his New York City residence. You can read our ongoing coverage of this developing story here.
The wrath was rapid and ruthless across social media. Journalists who have been covering the Shkreli saga, investors, business executives, industry observers, and the public at large chimed in on the development (often with schadenfreude).
So, Martin Shkreli is a Gordon Gekko caricature come to life— Andrew Flowers (@andrewflowers) December 17, 2015
Shkreli more than anyone will appreciate what they've done with cigarette prices in the joint.— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) December 17, 2015
Journalist John Carroll, who became wrapped up in the Daraprim price hike controversy that initially helped make Shkreli a household name after penning a critical piece about the move (and in response being called a "moron" by Shkreli), kept things relatively light (while noting he was surprised it's taken so long for the arrest):
Just remember, you call me a moron on Twitter and before you know it, the FBI will come calling. I have the data.— John Carroll (@JohnCFierce) December 17, 2015
While parts of the biopharma sector are likely glad to see Shkreli get his ostensible comeuppance (he's been kicked out of the main biotech trade group, BIO, and slammed by PhRMA as unrepresentative of the industry), biotech beat reporters Luke Timmerman and Adam Feuerstein warn that the acquire-and-hike pricing tactics that catapulted Shkreli into the national limelight will continue to face plenty of scrutiny.
. @ldtimmerman Your point is spot on. Big mistake if drug/biotech industry believes Martin’s arrest makes the drug pricing issue go away.— Adam Feuerstein (@adamfeuerstein) December 17, 2015
Others, such as CNBC host Jim Cramer, tried to distance themselves from Shkreli, who once interned for Cramer.
Cramer on Shrek - "He was not hired by me and Im tired of hearing about it" @jimcramer— BioRunUp (@BioRunUp) December 17, 2015
BIO and PhRMA haven't said anything about Shkreli's arrest as of press time. Neither have politicians like Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who have both been extremely critical of Shkreli's price hike tactics and in turn the objects of his derision.
Shkreli-affiliated firms Turing Pharma and KaloBios (a recent addition to his portfolio) have also stayed mum so far. The latter firm plunged more than 50% in early Thursday trading.
But it hasn't been all ridicule and jeering. Biopharma exec Michael Gilman, CEO of the autoimmune drug firm Padlock Therapeutics, noted the young entrepreneur's fall may deserve some measure of sympathy.
I don't know, but perhaps folks are taking too much pleasure in Shkreli arrest. Greek tragedy.— Michael Gilman (@michael_gilman) December 17, 2015
Once again, you can follow our ongoing coverage of this story here. The U.S. Attorney's office will reportedly hold a press conference and unseal the indictment at noon ET.