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Watch a sickeningly smug CEO justify raising the price for an AIDS pill by 5,500%

Published Sep 22nd, 2015 9:30PM EDT
Turing CEO Interview Daraprim Price Increase
Image: Bloomberg TV

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Have you ever heard of the drug Daraprim? Probably not. Nonetheless, it’s a drug that’s used by people with HIV to help fight off potentially deadly parasitic infections. The company with the rights to this drug is Turing Pharmaceuticals and it’s run by a man named Martin Shkreli, a former hedge-fund manager who’s bringing a Wall Street attitude to the pharmaceutical industry. After acquiring Daraprim earlier this year, Shkreli decided to raise its price from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet, despite the fact that this is not a new medicine, it isn’t facing massive shortages, and it doesn’t cost anywhere close to $750 per tablet for the company to produce.

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So how does Shkreli justify this astonishing 5,550% price increase? With an empathy-free dose of smugness that will have you punching your TV set. Check out his interview with Bloomberg TV below:

“We needed to turn a profit on the drug,” Shkreli explains. “This drug was being sold by several different companies, it came as a package. Nobody really knew that they owned it… And we’re the first company to really focus on this product and that’s a great thing because the companies before us were actually just giving it away almost… The price for a treatment to save your life was only $1,000 [per year].”

And that’s a bad thing?

This isn’t some cutting-edge medicine that was just developed after spending hundreds of millions in research. It’s been around for more than 62 years and whoever first developed it has already had ample time to recoup their investment.

As The New York Times reported over the weekend, many pharmaceutical companies have started identifying older drugs that are essential for niche treatments and then drastically increasing their prices because they figure patients will have little alternative but to pay up in the time it takes other companies to develop generic versions of it.

And for the record, the cost to produce one tablet of Daraprim is $1. So selling the pill at $13.50 a piece, even with added distribution costs and other factors, wasn’t some crazy bargain. This is just blatant greed and there’s no way to see it otherwise.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.