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This Is What Happened When Drug Baron Martin Shkreli Tried to Donate to the Bernie Sanders Campaign

‘We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed.’

Shkreli feels the Bern, via twitter and flickr user Marc Nozell

On September 28—about a week after Turing Pharmaceuticals chief executive Martin Shkreli made headlines by raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat patients with autoimmune deficiencies, by a staggering 5,500 percent—Shkreli made a $2,700 donation to the Bernie Sanders campaign, the maximum individual contribution.


The pharmaceutical executive told the Boston Globe he agreed with many of the Democratic presidential candidate’s positions, though notably not Sanders’ ideas about lowering drug prices. Shkreli said hoped the donation would earn him a meeting with the campaign, which the executive would use to explain how drug companies determine prices.

On Thursday, the Sanders campaign announced that it would not be taking Shkreli’s money. Instead, the $2,700 will be donated to Washington, DC’s Whitman-Walker health clinic, which specializes in providing care to those who traditionally face barriers to care—like LGBT individuals and HIV patients.

“We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,” campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told the Globe.

During Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, the Vermont senator named Big Pharma and Wall Street as the two “enemies [he’s] most proud of.” Sanders’ policy proposals are particularly at odds with the drug business that Shrkeli has come to represent. Sanders wants to allow Medicare to negotiate prices with prescription drug companies. (As Vox’s Sarah Kliff explains, the U.S. is the only developed nation that allows these companies to set their own prices, free of government intervention.) The senator also wants to permit the importation of prescriptions from Canada, and to get rid of rules that keep cheaper generic drugs off the market.

Shkreli, meanwhile, is “furious” that the Sanders campaign has taken a stand against the donation.

“I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person,” Shkreli told the Globe in an interview.

“Right now the rule of law in the United States is that drug companies can price their products wherever they see fit, not wherever [Sanders] sees fit,” Shkreli continued. “If the rule changes by congressional vote, then you know, I’ll adapt to the rules.”

Though Shkreli said his company would lower the price of Daraprim three weeks ago, Turing Pharmaceuticals still has not. “I said that it would take a long amount of time to figure out how and when to lower the price," he told Business Insider this week.

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