Martin Shkreli on his "altruistic" motives: "I'm a capitalist — I want to create a big drug company"

"There're a lot of altruistic properties" to raising cost of treating toxoplasmosis from $1,350 to $63,000, he said


Scott Eric Kaufman
September 22, 2015 6:26PM (UTC)

On "CBS This Morning," embattled Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli continued to defend his company's decision to hike the price of Daraprim by 5,455 percent, claiming that "there are a lot of altruistic properties" to raising the cost of treating toxoplasmosis from $1,130 to $63,000.

He denied that the increased cost was "drastic," saying "it depends on how you define 'drastically,' because the drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money. And at this price it's a reasonable profit. Not excessive at all."

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This new "reasonable profit" is being made at the expense of immunocompromised patients, such as pregnant women and babies, as well as those with AIDS or who are undergoing radiation therapy. This is, as Hillary Clinton noted on Twitter, nothing more than "price gouging":

But Shkreli disagreed, saying that this is simply capitalism at its finest. "There's no doubt -- I'm a capitalist," he said. "I'm trying to create a big drug company, a successful drug company, a profitable drug company. We're trying to flourish, but we're also -- our first and primary stakeholders are patients, there's no doubt about that."

There is, of course, quite a bit of doubt about that, both among Twitter denizens and the medical community. "It's predatory practice and it's inappropriate," CBS medical correspondent Dr. David Agus said. "Patients shouldn't be taxed and charged for future research and development. Patients should pay for the drug they're getting and what they need in the situation that they are."

Dr. Agus was referring to Shkreli's claim "we're now a company that is dedicated to the treatment and cure of toxoplasmosis -- and with these new profits we can spend all of that upside on these patients who sorely need a new drug, in my opinion."

Watch the entire interview via CBS News below.

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Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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