Skip to Content

Martin Shkreli Seriously Didn’t Care About Jacking Up Drug Prices

Former KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Officer Martin Shkreli Court AppearanceFormer KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Officer Martin Shkreli Court Appearance
Turns out Harvard students aren't big fans of drug price hikes.Photograph by Peter Foley — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli anticipated that boosting the price of its newly-acquired drug Daraprim by over 5,000% would net healthy profits, according to correspondence obtained by a Congressional committee. The emails and other communication leave little doubt that Shkreli was concerned about patient access or the burden that suddenly higher prices would have.

“I think it will be huge. We raised the price from $1,700 per bottle to $75,000,” wrote Shkreli in an email to an outside contact that wasn’t identified. “Almost all of it is profit and I think we will get 3 years of that or more. Should be a very handsome investment for all of us. Let’s all cross our fingers that the estimates are accurate.”

The hunger for profits at the expense of patients extended to other employees at the company, too.

Just weeks after Shkreli’s comments, Tina Ghorban, the senior director of business analytics and customer insights at Turing, forwarded a single purchase order for 96 bottles of Daraprim at the new price of $75,000 per bottle with the comment: “Another $7.2 million. Pow!”

The order total for those 96 bottles nearly totaled the full annual revenues of the drug’s previous owners.

 

The comments are part of a slew of documents and correspondence–about 250,000 pages total–sent to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by Turing ahead of a hearing on Thursday about recent drug price increases. Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, released memos that outlined choice excerpts from the information provided by both Turing and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX). The full documents and emails were not released.

Shkreli, who has been subpoenaed and must appear as a witness at tomorrow’s hearing, said he will refuse to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right. Shkreli is not longer CEO of Turing. He stepped down in December after he was indicted on securities fraud and was replaced by interim CEO Ron Tilles.

Since Turing became the center of drug price outrage late last year, it has made efforts to improve access to its medicines. It now offers discounts of up to 50% to certain hospitals and said in response to Cumming’s memo that the company’s pricing strategy was meant to “balance patient access to our existing drugs with investment in research and value generation for our shareholders.”

CORRECTION: Turing’s interim CEO is Ron Tilles. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Howard Schiller was Turing’s interim CEO. Schiller is currently the interim CEO for Valeant.