Release of Internal Documents Shows Greed Driving Shkreli’s Push for Drug Price Hike

by HRC Staff

Shkreli boasts of “$1 bn here we come” and consultant says company needs to get HIV and AIDS activists to “sit this out”

WASHINGTON -- Following today’s release by the House Oversight Committee of astonishing internal documents revealing the greed behind former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli’s decision to increase by 5,000 percent the cost of the life-saving drug Daraprim,  Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following statement:

“Turing’s internal memos prove the company put profits over the well-being of patients with life-threatening health conditions and treated the entire controversy as a public relations problem. Their lack of transparency in drug pricing and Martin Shkreli’s thirst for revenues led the company to force patients and payers to bear an unconscionable cost burden. Congress must take steps to ensure access to essential treatments is prioritized over price-gouging profiteering.”

Daraprim is a crucial treatment for many pregnant women and people living with HIV. Last fall, then-Turing CEO Martin Shkreli acquired the rights to the drug and subsequently raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per dose overnight.

Shkreli, who resigned from Turing after coming under investigation for securities fraud, is scheduled to appear Thursday before the House Oversight Committee to face questioning about drug pricing. He has asserted that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

But the documents released today speak for themselves, providing “a rare, inside look at the motivations and tactics of drug company executives,” said Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the committee’s ranking member. “They confirm what Americans across the country have experienced firsthand for years -- that many drug companies are lining their pockets at the expense of some of the most vulnerable families in our nation.”

Highlights, or, rather, lowlights include:

  • May, 27, 2015, Shkreli emails Turing board chairman in response to progress being made in acquiring Daraprim: “Very good. Nice work as usual. $1b here we come.”
  • August 27, 2015, Shkreli emails an outside contact about anticipated profits from Daraprim price hike: “I think it will be huge….So 5,000 paying bottles at the new price is $375,000,000--almost all of it is profit and I think we will get 3 years of that or more."
  • September 17, 2015, Tina Ghorban, a Turing executive, forwards in an email news of a single purchase for 96 bottles of Daraprim at $75,000 per bottle: “Another $7.2 million. Pow!”

Shkreli resigned from Turing in December, a day after he was arrested by the FBI amid a federal investigation involving his former hedge fund and another pharmaceutical company he previously headed. Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Ron Tilles continues to resist restoring the drug to its original price, and Turing must be called to account for this despicable scheme that has continued well past Martin Shkreli’s departure.

HRC continues its call to get to the bottom of whether Turing and Shkreli violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of a drug that is essential to the lives of medically vulnerable people, including those living with HIV and pregnant women. And, thus far, Turing Pharmaceuticals and its chairman and interim CEO Ron Tilles have continued to resist calls to restore the original price of the crucial drug.

Last fall, at HRC’s urging, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began investigating whether Turing Pharmaceuticals may have violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of the drug. HRC also sent letters to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, seeking an investigation into the unconscionable action of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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