Biopharma may dismiss Martin Shkreli as the industry’s black sheep. But the infamous drug price hiker is on a mission to show that he’s just one of the flock.
Shkreli, who gained national notoriety for a 5,000% price hike on a niche drug (and is currently facing unrelated securities fraud charges), has launched a new website that details the many instances where big pharma companies have made equally staggering price hikes. Shkreli singles out major drug makers like AbbVie (ABBV), Allergan (AGN), Merck (MRK), Novo Nordisk (NVO), and others (accompanied by his typically brash and self-promoting style of commentary).
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There’s a clear catalyst for Shkreli’s new site, dubbed “Pharma Skeletons.” On Monday, the drug lobbying giant Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) launched a massive new PR campaign to try and salvage its increasingly damaged reputation. PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl specifically called out Shkreli during an appearance on CNBC announcing the so-called GOBOLDLY initiative, which aims to remind the public (and, more to the point, lawmakers who might be considering stringent pharma regulations) of the groundbreaking innovation in the life sciences industry.
Ubl said that there needs to more interest in people in “lab coats” and less on those in “hoodies” (a reference to Shkreli).
That didn’t sit very well with the 33-year-old investor-turned-biopharma exec, who seems fed up with being a price hike scapegoat even though the practice is ubiquitous among drug makers. And so he set out to publicly shame a variety of PhRMA’s member companies (Shkreli and his previous firm, Turing, was kicked out by PhRMA after the infamous 5,000% price hike).
“Look in the mirror. This website took me half an hour to make, just ‘membering a few moments from the past,” wrote Shkreli at the bottom of the page. “Pharma is a wonderful industry that does great things, but trying to throw me under the bus is foolish.
“Also keep in mind that I took a very low or zero salary at all of my companies,” he added. “Your CEOs enjoy the fat paychecks they receive from price increases.”