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Martin Shkreli’s Harvard Talk Got Disrupted by a Fire Alarm and Protests

February 16, 2017, 8:26 PM UTC
Former KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Officer Martin Shkreli Court Appearance
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, smiles while exiting federal court in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Shkreli, charged with securities fraud and called before a congressional panel, has replaced his legal team with Benjamin Brafman, the lawyer who helped get Sean "Diddy" Combs acquitted of gun and bribery charges in 2001. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Peter Foley — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Martin Shkreli’s speech at Harvard University didn’t exactly go off without a hitch.

The notorious hedge fund manager-turned price hiking biotech executive was met with protests and general name-calling during the event, which was hosted by the Harvard Financial Analysts Club on Wednesday evening. In fact, the talk started late because somebody pulled the fire alarm and police had to evacuate the building where it was taking place, according to CNBC.

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The protesters eventually left, and there were no reports of violence. But there were also counter-events being held by student groups at the same time as Shkreli’s talk, including a “teach-in” about pharma price hikes.

For his part, Shkreli discussed his experience in managing hedge funds and health care specifically. He is currently under indictment for alleged securities fraud and out on $5 million bail. That trial is set to start this summer.

Shkreli, in many ways, helped bring a glaring spotlight to the issue of drug pricing with his 5,000% increase on a cheap drug used by HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. Since the brouhaha broke out, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has taken pains to distance itself from Shkreli, who it says doesn’t represent the spirit of innovation which drives biopharma.

But Shkreli’s hit back hard recently. He launched a website tracking pharma company “skeletons” on drug price hikes in an effort to show that many drug makers share his methodology without eliciting the same kind of outrage. He even credited the latest drug price hike villain, Marathon Pharmaceuticals, with “teaching” him how to take advantage of existing regulations to increase prices.

One line from Shkreli’s talk that’s sure to stick out? “[President Donald] Trump should start a drug company. I would be proud to help implement this.”