Shkreli, in Tweet, Says He Will Prevail, Allegations Baseless

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bad-boy ex-pharma CEO Shkreli calls fraud charges ‘baseless’.

NEW YORK – Bad-boy ex-pharmaceutical company CEO Martin Shkreli (SHKREL’-ee) says fraud allegations against him are “baseless and without merit.” Shkreli was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy. There is ample evidence that drug prices have been pushed to astronomical heights for no reason other than the desire of drug makers to maximize profits.French President Francois Hollande’s popularity declined in December while Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s ratings remained stable, according to a BVA survey for Orange and I-tele released Saturday.America’s most notorious pharma exec spent the day after his securities fraud arrest playing online chess, scrolling through women’s dating profiles and chatting with supporters.Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents in New York Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, after being taken into custody following a securities probe.

Prices in many cases far exceed what’s needed to cover the costs of research and clinical trials, and some companies have found ways to rake in profits even without shouldering the cost of drug development. Hollande’s approval rating fell to 30 percent from 33 percent in November just after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, according to the survey. Clad in a purple PBS T-shirt and a pair of pajama bottoms, Martin Shkreli hosted a marathon live stream via his YouTube channel Friday night, hours after he stepped down as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug company infamous for its pill price gouging. The two worst offenders are bottom feeders that simply buy companies they believe have underpriced their drugs and then quickly raise prices to astronomical levels.

The measures targeted the Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting emissions from new power plants and a second standard that covers existing facilities. Federal prosecutors claim he ran two of his former companies — a biotech firm and a hedge fund —like a Ponzi scheme, looting one to pay off debts from the other. “I can’t really talk about business or anything. Online, many people were gleeful over in his arrest, some of them joking about a judge ratcheting up his bail or lawyers jacking up their hourly fees 5,000 percent for defending him in his hour of need.

It also protected its high-priced dermatology drugs by urging doctors to send prescriptions to a mail-order pharmacy that would make sure no cheaper alternative was substituted. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group, described Turing and Valeant as essentially investment vehicles “masquerading as pharmaceutical companies.” Yet even some mainstream companies have set high prices that seem hard to justify. Shkreli — who previously refused to play it for the public, saying Taylor Swift could listen to it in exchange for sexual favors — played an R.E.M album instead. Prosecutors said that in a “Ponzi-like scheme” between 2009 and 2014, Shkreli lost hedge fund investors’ money through bad trades, then raided Retrophin for $11 million in cash and stock to pay back his disgruntled clients. Eli Lilly said its new lung cancer drug, Portrazza, would cost about $11,430 a month in the United States, six times the $1,870 price that leading oncologists said in a recent journal article would be a fair reflection of the benefit the drug offers compared with older therapies.

Similarly, Pfizer set the list price for Ibrance, a drug to treat a form of advanced breast cancer, at $9,850 a month, a price that remains high even after the 20 percent discount demanded by insurers. The Brooklyn-born Shkreli has found himself at the center of a firestorm over drug pricing in the last few months, and he hasn’t been afraid to throw on more fuel. It began after Turing Pharmaceuticals spent $55 million in August for the U.S. rights to sell Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug for a rare parasitic infection, and promptly raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Headlines called him such things as “America’s most hated man,” the “drug industry’s villain,” ”biotech’s bad boy” — and those were just the more printable names.

Doctors and medical groups said the price hike was cutting patients off from lifesaving treatment, activists protested outside Turing’s offices, and the episode helped prompt a Senate hearing on drug prices. Experts have proposed several ways to reduce drug prices, like fostering greater competition among drug companies or allowing the government to negotiate lower prices. Hillary Clinton called it price-gouging and said the company’s behavior was “outrageous.” Donald Trump called Shkreli “a spoiled brat.” Bernie Sanders returned a donation from Shkreli. Encouraging the development of innovative drugs and setting prices in ways that make lifesaving medicines affordable to all are not mutually exclusive ideas. While most patients’ copayments will be $10 or less a month, insurance companies will be stuck with the bulk of the tab, potentially driving up future treatment and insurance costs.

Shkreli has said that insurance and other programs allow patients to get the drug despite the cost and that the profits are helping fund research into new treatments. In fact, he recently said he probably should have raised it more. “No one wants to say it, no one’s proud of it, but this is a capitalist society, a capitalist system and capitalist rules,” he said in an interview at the Forbes Healthcare Summit this month. “And my investors expect me to maximize profits, not to minimize them or go half or go 70 percent but to go to 100 percent of the profit curve.” The Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group that urged Congress to investigate Shkreli’s price increases, called his arrest “long overdue” and added: “He has avoided accountability despite a pattern of fraudulent behavior.” Shkreli is known as a prolific user of Twitter and often livestreams his work day over the Internet, the camera showing him at his desk as he does business, kills time on the Web and invites people to chat with him. He refers to those who follow him online as his “fans.” Recently it emerged that he bought the only copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album titled “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which the group sold on the condition that it not be released publicly.

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