Martin Shkreli's big regret: Not pricing Daraprim even higher
Update: Martin Shkreli has resigned as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. The current Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ron Tilles, will take his place as interim CEO.
- On Thursday, Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharma, participated in the Forbes Healthcare Summit. At one point during the conversation, he suggested that he should have raised the price of Daraprim (pyrimethamine) by more than 5,000%—the price increase that unleashed a firestorm of criticism across the country.
- During the event, Shkreli reiterated his primary thesis that drug companies should be focused on profits, with the goal of achieving maximum returns for investors.
- Shkreli also noted that R&D is important because it drives longer term profits. He pointed out that Turing would like to develop a new treatment for toxoplasmosis since Daraprim is more than 60 years old and likened use of Daraprim for treating toxoplasmosis to using interferon-based regimens to treat hepatitis C.
Since the news broke that Turing Pharma had purchased Daraprim and immediately increased the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill, the criticism has been relentless. Turing has been banished by Express Scripts, kicked out of BIO, and been pilloried by lawmakers and politicians.
As the CEO of Turing, Shkreli has been largely unapologetic about his position, though he went through a brief period of contrition during which he said that he would lower the price of Daraprim (the ultimate price decrease is reportedly very low). That turned out to be a short-lived phase.
Now, Shkreli has reiterated his beliefs in the principles of unobstructed capitalism, saying that drug prices are inelastic. In addition, although he said that he has been "railroaded" by politicians, he also claimed that there are many large pharma companies looking to do business with Turing.
Interestingly, the Turing Pharma situation has been a big driver of the drug-pricing debate, and Shkreli seems to be comfortable holding his own—even as the debate intensifies.