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Why Martin Shkreli is currently the most hated man on the internet

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Move over, Walter Palmer: now there's a new contender for most hated man on the internet.

Martin Shkreli, CEO of New York-based pharmaceutical company Turing, hit headlines this week for raising the cost of a life-saving HIV drug by 4,000 per cent overnight - from around £11.63 a pill to £484.56.

What's more, when he was attacked on social media for the move, the former hedge fund manager decided to post Eminem lyrics on Twitter in response to his haters.

Shkreli, who's partial to the odd Wu-Tang Clan tweet as well as posting pictures of his 'poppin bottles' lifestyle, is also beefing online with journalists and anyone else who dares to criticise the company's decision.

He also pointed out that he's only increased the price by 4,000 per cent rather than 5,500 per cent, as was previously reported.

Daraprim, or pyrimethamine as it is generically known, is used to treat people with toxoplasmosis, a common ailment that affects people with weak immune systems such as HIV and cancer patients. Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to the drug in August.

Just a few years ago, Daraprim was available for about 65p per pill, but the cost has risen sharply after a succession of rights acquisitions by big firms.

Sadly, thanks to Food and Drug Agency (FDA) loopholes, it's a common story in the world of big pharma. Recently the price of a tuberclosis drug in the US and Canada skyrocketed by 2,000 per cent.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association sent a joint letter to Turing in August calling the price increase for Daraprim “unjustifiable", but a company spokesperson told USA Today that profits will be funnelled back into further research.

Shkreli has said that newer versions of the drug needed to be developed, and his was the first company “to really focus on this product” for decades.

The CEO has also said that the company is working with insurance companies and hospitals to provide the drug to uninsured patients.

Shkreli told Bloomberg that firms that previously owned the rights to the drug had been "virtually giving it away". "We needed to turn a profit on the drug," he said. "It is still under-priced compared to its peers."


More from The Independent: Hedge funder Martin Shkreli buys rights to drug used by HIV patients and raises price from $13.50 to $750 per pill

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