Reviled Pharma CEO Has a PR Crisis. Diagnosis: Incurable

The Man Who Arbitrarily Raised the Price of an Essential Drug by 5,000% Speaks Out

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We have a new Most Hated Man in America and his name is Martin Shkreli. The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals has been the subject of withering mainstream media coverage with outrage-inducing headlines including USA Today's "Company hikes price 5,000% for drug that fights complication of AIDS, cancer" on Friday and The New York Times' "Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight" on Sunday.

As the Times explains,

Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection. The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As of this writing, the Times story tops its "Most Viewed" chart, comes in at No. 2 on "Most Emailed" and is the focus of a tweet by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is promising action:

So how is Martin Shkreli handling all the negative attention? Short answer: Badly!

As Gawker's Sam Biddle notes in a post titled "Pharmaceutical Greed Villain Martin Shkreli Will Fight the Whole Internet," Shkreli has gone on the warpath on Twitter, slapping back at his critics, calling one journalist a "moron" and engaging in exchanges like this with random people:

Biddle also points out that Shkreli didn't do himself any favors by putting this preposterous image of himself up on Twitter in August:

The 32-year-old CEO looked just as green (but way less self-assured) in a brief interview he did with Bloomberg Markets on Monday -- his argument is that Turing will be investing the extra dough from Daraprim's price hike in R&D -- but journalists looking for the baby-faced villain to further lay out his reasoning are out of luck. Because late this morning, Shkreli, ever the charmer, tweeted this:

So leave him alone already!

UPDATE: He changed his mind about "no more interviews":

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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