Turing Pharmaceuticals chief executive Martin Shkreli has gotten under the skin of Big Pharma’s bosses.
“He is not us,” Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said during a panel at Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York on Thursday.
The executives, including leaders of Celgene, Pfizer, Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline were discussing drug pricing shortly after Shkreli wrapped up a one-on-one interview.
Several were quick to distance themselves from the former hedge fund manager who drew national attention to the issue of drug price gouging after Turing acquired a decades-old drug called Daraprim and hiked the price by 5000%.
Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline described Turing’s move as “disturbing,” saying that its sucking up resources that should be used on more innovative, new medications. GSK owns the global rights to Daraprim, but sold the US rights back in 2009, where it has since changed hands a few times before being bought by Turing.
In England, Witty said, Daraprim is being sold for $20 per month.
Earlier in the day, Shkreli took to the conference stage in a hoodie and sneakers to defend the pricing strategy for Daraprim, which is used to treat parasitic infection.
“It’s a business, we’re supposed to make as much money as possible,” he said. Shkreli emphasised his commitment to shareholders and making sure his company can turn a profit as the main reason for pricing Daraprim at $750 a pill.
“I probably would have raised the price higher,” Shkreli said in a response to a question about what he would do differently if he could rewind the clock a few months.
“We do some pretty crappy things,” Regeneron CEO Leonard S. Schleifer admitted. Still, “he’s not in the same business as we are.”
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