'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli Blames Arrest on Media Attention, Not Fraud

By McCarton Ackerman 12/22/15

Martin Shkreli could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Infamous “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli is painting himself as a victim. In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, he claims that his controversial drug-price hike was the reason he was targeted by authorities, rather than for fraud and greed.

Speaking for the first time since his arrest last week on alleged fraud charges and stepping down as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli acknowledged that he has become a pariah for boosting the price of antiparasitic drug Daraprim, used to help treat HIV/AIDS, from $13.50 to $750 a pill.

He's described his boorish behavior since then—including paying $2 million for the sole printed copy of renowned rap group Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album to calling himself the “world’s most eligible bachelor”—as a “social experiment" that amounted to “teasing people over the internet.” But he said that flaunting himself to the media since the Daraprim scandal may have contributed to his arrest.

“Beating the person up and then trying to find the merits to make up for it—I would have hoped the government wouldn’t take that approach,” he said. Shkreli went on to describe his arrest as a “real injustice.” If convicted on all the charges against him, Shkreli faces up to 20 years behind bars.

He posted $5 million bail shortly after his arrest and has remained mum since then, only posting on Twitter that he was “glad to be home." But his Twitter account was hacked on Sunday, with his name changed to “Martin The God” and a series of tweets posted under it. The issue was apparently resolved by Monday, when the account tweeted: "I was hacked—I now have control of this account."

Meanwhile, Shkreli's company is also the main focus of a U.S. House of Representatives investigative panel on drastically rising costs. A hearing is expected to be held next year that will deal primarily with Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.