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'Pharma bro' Shkreli fires back at pharma industry ad blitz

The former CEO launches a website slamming industry misdeeds, amid a trade group's ad campaign that aims to distance the industry from him.

Martin Shkreli, seen here smiling at a congressional hearing in 2016, is tired of being the pharmaceutical industry's scapegoat.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Martin Shkreli, the bad boy of the pharmaceuticals industry, is tired of being its whipping boy. He's fighting back.

Shkreli, the former CEO who rocketed to notoriety in 2015 when he hiked the price of a lifesaving drug by more than 5,000 percent, has become the poster child for greed in the industry. That portrait is behind an advertising campaign launched Monday by trade group the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which is seeking to distance the industry from Shkreli and repair its ailing reputation.

The campaign is about having "less hoodie, more lab coats," PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl said during a press briefing, an apparent reference to Shkreli, who was photographed wearing a hooded sweatshirt during his arrest in 2015 on securities fraud charges. His bombastic style and contempt for critics earned him his derisive "Pharma bro" moniker.

Predictably, Shkreli wasn't pleased. He responded by launching a website attacking the records of other PhRMA members. The bare-bones lists the alleged price hikes, criminal behavior and general misdeeds of more than two dozen well-known pharmaceuticals companies.

"Look in the mirror," Shkreli writes on the site. "Pharma is a wonderful industry that does great things, but trying to throw me under the bus is foolish."

Representatives for the PhRMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2015, Shkreli's company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the per-pill price of the HIV medication Daraprim overnight from $13.50 to $750 (which roughly converts to £611 or AU$1,027).

Despite the controversy, Shkreli hasn't kept a low profile online. Earlier this month, Twitter suspended his account after he trolled freelance journalist Lauren Duca, author of a December opinion piece for Teen Vogue that ran under the headline "Donald Trump is Gaslighting America." Shkreli, a Trump supporter, soon began peppering Duca with messages of mock attraction, including an invitation to be his date for Trump's inauguration.

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