-- Notorious former pharma CEO Martin Shkreli fired off an email to the board of directors of his pharmaceutical company boasting "$1 bn here we come" after learning they were close to acquiring Daraprim, an anti-parasitic drug used to treat infections, according to a trove of newly released documents.
Shkreli drew fire for boosting the price of the drug, which is used to treat infections that are typically found in those with compromised immune systems, by 4,000 percent.
“Nice work as usual,” he wrote on May 27, 2015, according to newly released documents. “$1 bn here we come.”
He also refused to step down and lower the price of the drug despite a consultant's recommendation to do so, the documents say.
Three months later, after the acquisition, Shkreli wrote about projections that Daraprim would bring in $375 million a year, after the price of the drug was raised. “Should be a very handsome investment for all of us,” he wrote.
The exchanges -– among the 250,000 pages of documents Turing Pharmaceuticals turned over to Congress -– were released in a series of memos Tuesday from Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, ahead of Shkreli's appearance before the committee later this week.
The panel is investigating drug pricing at Turing and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, another company under fire for hiking drug prices, and has subpoenaed Shkreli, compelling him to appear for a hearing Thursday.
While Shkreli did not work at Valeant, that company has been accused by Democrats on the Oversight Committee of using a similar business model as Shkreli, according to Business Insider.
Cummings says the documents demonstrate how Shkreli purchased Daraprim to explicitly turn a profit -- and how company leaders anticipated backlash for hiking the price of a drug used to treat infections in people with HIV.
As public criticism and outrage over the company’s business model grew last fall, a consultant recommended Shkreli step down and lower the price of Daraprim in such a way to “force reporters to focus on the byzantine nature of drug pricing and health care and ensure the patient message gets out,” the documents say.
“This can set you up also for more long term reputation rehabilitation by forcing a focus on Turing as a research and development company—not a pharma hedge fund hybrid,” the consultant wrote in October.
Shkreli did not step down, and Turing did not lower the price of Daraprim.
Shkreli did not leave the company until December, when he was arrested on unrelated securities fraud charges. Shkreli has pleaded not guilty in that case and is free on $5 million bond.
“These new documents provide a rare, inside look at the motivations and tactics of drug company executives,” Cummings said in a statement. “They confirm what Americans across the country have experienced firsthand for years—that many drug companies are lining their pockets at the expense of some of the most vulnerable families in our nation.”
Benjamin Brafman, Shkreli's new defense attorney -- who represented rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs when he faced gun and bribery charges in 2001, along with former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- did not respond to the release of the memos and Cummings' conclusions, but said in a statement that Shkreli would be "fully exonerated" of the securities fraud charges.
Shkreli told Fox Business Tuesday that he plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment before Congress later this week.