A new U.S. Senate report detailed how "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli and his company targeted a drug as a potential moneymaker and jacked up prices -- and the disgraced businessman responded to critics with petty taunts.
The Senate report found Shkreli and his team had sought a low-performing drug made by a single manufacturer and used by a small number of patients so they could acquire the distribution rights and then dramatically increase the cost, reported Endpoint News.
They found the perfect candidate in Daraprim, a 62-year-old medicine used to treat nausea that Shkreli's company bought in August 2015 and raised the price overnight from $13.50 a pill to $750.
Turing executives hoped to make a “classic closed distribution play” on the drug because there weren't enough patients to effectively lobby against the hike, and its distribution was limited enough to keep the drug away from generic manufacturers.
"I think it will be huge," Shkreli told an investor, according to the report. "We raised the price from $1,700 per bottle to $75,000 ... So 5,000 paying bottles at the new price is $375,000,000 — almost all of it is profit and I think we will get 3 years of that or more. Should be a very handsome investment for all of us."
Shkreli hoped to turn the investment -- and its astronomically higher price -- into $1 billion, but he underestimated the backlash.
The New York Times reported the 5,000 percent price increase, and the story caught on -- based in large part because of Shkreli's previous social media activity and his braggadocious response to the public outrage.
He was eventually ousted as CEO of Turing, a company he founded, and is scheduled to stand trial in June on federal charges related to his previous investment venture.
A reporter contacted Shkreli on Twitter to ask whether Turing had gotten away with his scheme, since the company was still selling Daraprim for the same inflated price -- and the so-called "most hated man on the internet" responded with boasts about women and money.
Lawmakers rebuked Shkreli's "immoral" and "predatory" hedge fund model of drug pricing, a burden they said eventually was shouldered by taxpayers.
"The skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs affect every American family, particularly our seniors," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). "We must work to stop the bad actors who are driving up the prices of drugs that they did nothing to develop ... just because, as one executive essentially said, 'because I can.'"