Lifesaving EpiPen a ‘bargain’ even after 500% price hike ‒ Martin Shkreli

Former drug executive Martin Shkreli. © Brendan McDermid
The “most hated man in America” has defended a 500 percent price hike of the lifesaving device EpiPen. Martin Shkreli said the emergency allergy treatment was a “bargain” after the price increase, describing it as a commodity akin to an iPhone.

The former Turing CEO defended Mylan Pharmaceuticals, the company that owns EpiPen, in an interview with CBS News. Shkreli claimed Mylan made a measly 8 cents for every dollar they sold and were entitled to reap the benefits when they had a hit product.

“We all want to jump on them. They’ve been waiting for one hit product to make some money,” Shkreli said, before adding a comment that he said would be controversial: “Everyone’s thinking about the patient’s families, but no one's thinking about Mylan’s.”

READ MORE: Senators have allergic reaction to EpiPen price hike

“Ultimately EpiPen is actually a bargain. It saves you all the cost of going to the emergency room. Just the ambulance ride can be $1,000.” Shkreli said. “Like I said, it’s $300 a pack. $300. My iPhone is $700.”

He offered a solution, however: The government should start its own drug companies for off-patent medicine, pleasing those who believe medicine should be exempt from the laws of capitalism.

EpiPen administers a quick dose of epinephrine to counter a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Last year, US doctors issued 3.6 million prescriptions for the injector. Mylan’s stock fell 5 percent yesterday.

Shkreli, who is no stranger to price hikes ‒ he was responsible for a 5,000 percent hike in Daraprim, a medicine used in HIV and malaria treatment ‒ dismissed any concerns over an upcoming lawsuit against him. Shkreli is accused of security fraud by “engaging in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit,” according to the Department of Justice.

He defended himself against the charges, telling CBS News that people are determined to attack him because he is “very handsome, very wealthy and very funny.”

When asked about his public outrage to the killing of Harambe the gorilla, Shkreli said he was very fond of the primates, but admitted that, in his pharmaceutical role, he has “overseen the death of thousands of animals.”