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'Hated' CEO Hikes Life-Saving Drug 4000%

Martin Shkreli is being called the "Most Hated Man in America" by some in the U.S. media. He raised prices on a life-saving drug by 4000% almost overnight. (FILE PHOTO)

Martin Shkreli is being called the "Most Hated Man in America" by some in the U.S. media. He raised prices on a life-saving drug by 4000% almost overnight. (FILE PHOTO)

The CEO of a drug, or pharmaceutical, company raised the price of a life-saving drug used by AIDS patients by over 4,000 percent. Now, he is saying his company will lower the price. But critics say his profit will be enormous.

He is now called the most hated man in the United States.

Martin Shkreli is the CEO of the drug company Turing Pharmaceuticals. And he earned the name of “Most Hated Man in America” last week. The media reported that his company raised the price of a drug used by patients with AIDS and cancer.

Shkreli raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Daraprim fights infections among those with weak immune systems. The drug has been around for decades. However, the drug company Turing Pharmaceuticals, got the rights to own the drug in August.

The price rise scandal went viral. It seemed everyone on social media was talking about it.

Even presidential candidates commented. Democrat Hillary Clinton tweeted that as president, she would end "price gouging" by drug companies. Price gouging is when a seller raises the prices of products or services to a much higher level than is considered reasonable or fair. Another word for it is “profiteering,” to make a profit from the sale of needed goods in an emergency situation.

During a recent press conference, Republican candidate Donald Trump said the CEO "looks like a spoiled brat." A spoiled brat refers to a child who wants a lot and then cries and screams if he or she doesn’t get it.

The 32-year-old Shkreli told ABC news that he would lower the price of the medicine to make it "more affordable." But he stopped short of giving any details. He said the drug company gave the drug away for free to about half of those who use it.

However, before saying Turing Pharmaceuticals would lower the price, Shkreli had defended the company's pricing. He said the company needed the 4000% rise to make money for more research and development.

Not all were convinced that the announcement was a win for those needing the drug.

Forbes magazine wrote “Shkreli won. He made a huge price increase, rode through the resulting controversy, and now has settled into taking a less huge price increase, but probably still very big price increase."

Shkreli had been outspoken in defending himself on Twitter. He said the media was making him look like the bad guy. Earlier in the week, he made his Twitter feed private.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Reporters at VOA News wrote this story. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

pharmaceuticaladj. of or relating to the production and sale of drugs and medicine

viraladj. quickly and widely spread or popularized especially by person-to-person electronic communication

price gougingv. is when a seller spikes the prices of goods or services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair.

profiteeringv. one who makes what is considered an unreasonable profit especially on the sale of essential goods during times of emergency

afford ­v. to be able to pay for (something) : affordable is the adjective

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