A $750 Pill And A Founder Who Doesn’t Know When To Stop Tweeting

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A Twitter account in the hands of a hothead startup founder can be a dangerous thing.

The New York Times ran a piece Sunday looking into why a 62-year-old pill saw its price skyrocket from $13.50 to nearly $750 after it was acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals last month.

The increase in the price of Daraprim, a drug that the Times reported “is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection,” will undoubtedly have a major impact on those struggling to keep up with high prescription drug costs.

The article continued:

Dr. Aberg of Mount Sinai said some hospitals will now find Daraprim too expensive to keep in stock, possibly resulting in treatment delays. She said that Mount Sinai was continuing to use the drug, but each use now required a special review.

“This seems to be all profit-driven for somebody,” Dr. Aberg said, “and I just think it’s a very dangerous process.”

It was apparent that the news regarding Daraprim was set to stir up a storm for Turing Pharmaceuticals, which had already sent out a press release Thursday after a few other publications had dug into the price hike.

In the statement, Turing’s Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Retzlaff reassured the public:

“Our number one priority is to ensure that all patients diagnosed with toxoplasmosis have an efficient and affordable means to access Daraprim,” Ms. Retzlaff said. “As soon as we learned that some hospitals and clinics were having trouble accessing the product, we developed an immediate corrective plan to ensure quick, efficient access for patients in need.”

Martin Shkreli, Turing Pharmaceuticals’ founder and chief executive, took to Twitter following the article’s publication Sunday to do some of his own damage control. In the 15 or so hours following the Times article’s publication, Shkreli sent out 125+ tweets to the “haters” calling out his company’s operations.

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In a world where corporate public relations missteps are met with highly manicured executive responses, it’s clear that Shkreli is not satisfied with letting the press releases do the talking.

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The former hedge fund manager’s responses to other Twitter users regarding the controversy were more immature than one could plausibly expect from a successful CEO, and painted a picture of a leader who is, at best, incapable of speaking on behalf of his company effectively, and is, at worst, incapable of showing any sympathy to those struggling to afford his company’s life-saving drugs.

It’s all painfully ironic for a guy who started a foundation earlier this year under his own name for helping out the underprivileged. The site starts reeking of hypocrisy when you weigh the foundation’s mission statement against the actual words Shkreli writes out on Twitter.

Part of the Shkreli Foundation’s mission statement:

Founded in early 2015, the Shkreli Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping people facing a variety of adversities.

A tweet from Shkreli saying that patients’ debt resulting from the price hike “aint my fault”:

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Shkreli seems to believe that the ire of those calling him out comes from a place of “socialist and liberal rage,” rather than genuine frustration.

@bp4Christ twitter isn’t the best medium to do this on. it seems to be a great medium for socialist and liberal rage, though.”

The founder has a lot of choice words for random Twitter followers but it sounds like he believes that when it comes to responding to media criticism, Eminem lyrics and a physical gesture sum up his emotions a little bit more succinctly.

 

#StayClassy