Daraprim Price Hike

Daraprim Price Hike

Part of a series on Martin Shkreli. [View Related Entries]

Updated Dec 02, 2016 at 12:28PM EST by Adam.

Added Sep 22, 2015 at 03:15PM EDT by Don.

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Daraprim Price Hike refers to the controversial increase in the price-per-tablet of the medication Daraprim after it was acquired by the company Turing Pharmaceuticals AG in August 2015.


The drug pyrimethamine was originally developed by Nobel Prize-winning American scientist Gertrude Ellon for the company Burroughs-Wellcome as an antimalarial medication. The drug was subsequently given the trade name Daraprim and used to treat protozoal infections, most notably in combination with sulfoanamide antibiotic sulfadiazine for HIV-postive individuals infected with Toxoplasma gondii. It is considered an "essential medicine" by the World Health Organization,[19] which describes it as part of a set of "minimum medicine needs for a basic health‐care system". On September 20th, 2015, The New York Times[1] reported that the company Turning Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per tablet after acquiring the drug the previous month.

Notable Developments

Martin Shkreli's Response

On September 20th, FierceBiotech editor John Carroll[5] asked Turing Pharmaceuticals founder and CEO Martin Shkreli about the price hike on Twitter, to with Shkreli replied that it was "a great business decision that also benefits all our stakeholders" (shown below, left). After Carroll tweeted a link to the response, Shkreli called Carroll a "moron" (shown below, right).[6]

John Carroll @JohnCFierce Sep 20 @MartinShkreli Why did you raise the price of Daraprim by 5000%, as reported? 2823 Martin Shkreli @MartinShkreli Follow @JohncFierce It's a great business decision that also benefits all of our stakeholders. I don't expect the likes of you to process that. RETWEETSFAVORITES 39 12 11:19 AM -20 Sep 2015 23 John Carroll @JohnCFierce Sep 20 We have an answer. Martin Shkreli @MartinShkreli @JohnCFierce It's a great business decision that also benefits all of our stakeholders. I dont expect the likes of you to process that. 1933 Martin Shkreli MartinShkreli Follow @JohnCFierce You are such a moron RETWEETS FAVORITES 27 11:21 AM-20 Sep 2015 13

The same day, Shkreli responded to a tweet asking how he slept at night with "you know, ambien" (shown below). Redditor politicalleft subsequently posted the tweet to the /r/worldnews[9] subreddit, where it gathered upwards of 6,000 votes (95% upvoted) within six hours.

ZOZo TM @zoninoz 20 Sep @Martin Shkreli how do u manage to sleep at night? Martin Shkreli @Martin Shkreli FolloW @zoninoz you know, ambien 10:14 PM 20 Sep 2015 わ 다22 ★18

On September 21st, Shkreli was interviewed during a news segment on CNBC, where he defended the price hike as a rational business decision to gather funds for research and development of better drugs (shown below).

Online Reaction

On September 21st, several image macros criticizing Shkreli for the price hike reached the front page of Reddit (shown below).[10][11]


Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posted a tweet[8] condemning drug market price gouging (shown below). Within 24 hours, the tweet gathered upwards of 2,200 favorites and 1,900 retweets.

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton FolloW Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on. -H twitter.com/nytimes/status.·. 10:56 AM 21 Sep 2015 わ 1,951 ★2,230

The same day, the Internet Comment Etiquette with Erik YouTube channel posted a video titled "Let's Get in the Middle Of It: 'Martin Shkreli'," in which host Erik posts several derisive tweets directed toward Shrkeli (shown below). Also on September 21st, Redditor XyllonPosts submitted the video was submitted to the /r/videos[7] subreddit, where it garnered more than 980 votes (90% upvoted) and 80 comments in the first 24 hours.

News Media Coverage

In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the online backlash to the price hike, including The Daily Mail,[12] Gawker,[13] The Independent,[14] Raw Story,[15] and the Washington Post.[16]

ABC News Interview

On September 22nd, 2015, Shkreli was interviewed on ABC News, where he claimed he would be lowering the price of Daraprim to "a point that is more afforable" (shown below).


On December 17th, 2015, Shkreli was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)[20] on charges of securities fraud and conspiracy charges in connection to his former position as the co-founder and CEO of the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management and biotechnology firm Retrophin LLC. According to the indictment[21], Shkreli allegedly misappropriated millions of dollars in cash and stock from Retrophin "in an effort to satisfy [his] personal and unrelated professional debts and obligations," much of which were owed to his investors while serving as the CEO of MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare between 2009 and 2012, during which Shkreli repeatedly lied to them by grossly misrepresenting the performance of the fund. In addition to the federal indictment, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also filed a similar lawsuit accusing Shkreli of lying to his investors about the hedge fund he ran.


Teens Replicate Daraprim

On November 30th, ABC[22] reported that high school students in Sydney, Australia, had successfully replicated Pyrimethamine, the active ingredient in Daraprim. According to Uproxx,[23] the students had successfully replicated what would amount to $110,000 dollars worth of Pyrimethamine with Turing's price hike for $20. The students will be unable to market the drug as a generic alternative to Daraprim because of a loophole that allows Turing to control the drug despite it being out of patent.

The following day, Martin Shkreli took to Twitter to voice his anger at the story. He said it reminded him of the Ahmed Mohammed Clock Story in that it was a media attempt to generate a feel-good story.

Follow Martin Shkrel.Φ @MartinShkreli These kids who 'made Daraprim' reminds me of Ahmed who 'made the clock'. Dumb journalists want a feel good story. 釿。 RETWEETSL 497 1,746

He implied he was being made out to look like a bad guy, citing that labor costs were a major reason Daraprim costs as much as it does.

Martin Shkrel.Φ Follow MartinShkreli Labor and equipment costs? Didn't know you could get physical chemists to work for free? I should use high school kids to make my medicines!

His tweetstorm and the responses it generated made Twitter Moments[24] the following day and was also covered by Uproxx.[25] Shkreli rebuked the idea that he was "dragging" the students, as the Twitter Moments headline stated, but that he was angry at the "false narrative" generated by what he saw as the media's need to generate a feel good story.[26] He also recorded a short video praising the work of the students and going into a bit of detail of the work being done at Turing.

Search Interest

External References

[1] The New York Times – Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750

[2] Reddit – The New Scumbag CEO

[3] Reddit – Bond villains are getting lamer…

[4] Reddit – CEO who raised price of old pill more than $700 calls journalist a moron for asking why

[5] Twitter – @JohnCFierce

[6] Twitter – @Shrekli

[7] Reddit – Lets Get in the Middle of it

[8] Twitter – @HillaryClinton

[9] Reddit – Hedge fund trader Martin Shkreli

[10] Reddit – Bond villains are getting lamer

[11] Reddit – The New Scumbag CEO

[12] The Daily Mail – Meet the most despised man in the world

[13] Gawker – Pharmaceutical Greed Villain Martin Shkreli

[14] The Independent – Hedge fund trader Martin Shkreli hits back

[15] Raw Story – Ex-hedge funder who hiked AIDS pill

[16] The Washington Post – CEO who raised price of old pill more than $700 calls journalist

[17] CNBC – Turing to roll back pricing for Daraprim amid controversy

[18] NBC News – Drug CEO Will Lower Price of Daraprim After Hike Sparked Outrage

[19] WHO Essential Medicines – WHO Model List of Essential Medicines

[20] New York Times – Martin Shkreli Arrested on Fraud Charges

[21] New York Times – Indictment Charges Shkreli With Security Fraud

[22] ABC – Daraprim drug's key ingredient recreated by high school students in Sydney for just $20

[23] Uproxx – Martin Shkreli Got Outsmarted By Australian Teens Who’ve Replicated His $750 HIV Drug For $2 Per Dose

[24] Twitter Moments – Shkreli drags schoolboys who made their own 'Daraprim'

[25] Uproxx – Martin Shkreli Is Predictably Lashing Out At Everyone In Response To Teens Replicating His HIV Drug

[26] Twitter – @MartinShkreli

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