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Big Pharma CEOs on Martin Shkreli: 'He is not us'

Screen Shot 2015 12 03 at 2.06.42 PM
Screen Shot 2015 12 03 at 2.06.42 PM

(Lydia Ramsey)
Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline

Turing Pharmaceuticals chief executive Martin Shkreli has gotten under the skin of Big Pharma's bosses.

"He is not us," Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said during a panel at Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York on Thursday.

The executives, including leaders of Celgene, Pfizer, Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline were discussing drug pricing shortly after Shkreli wrapped up a one-on-one interview.

Several were quick to distance themselves from the former hedge fund manager who drew national attention to the issue of drug price gouging after Turing acquired a decades-old drug called Daraprim and hiked the price by 5000%.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline described Turing's move as "disturbing," saying that its sucking up resources that should be used on more innovative, new medications. GSK owns the global rights to Daraprim, but in 2009 sold the rights in the US, where its changed hands a few times before being bought by Turing.

In England, Witty said, Daraprim is being sold for $20 per month.

Earlier in the day, Shkreli took to the conference stage in a hoodie and sneakers to defend the pricing strategy for Daraprim, which is used to treat parasitic infection.

"It’s a business, we’re supposed to make as much money as possible," he said. Shkreli emphasized his commitment to shareholders and making sure his company can turn a profit as the main reason for pricing Daraprim at $750 a pill.

"I probably would've raised the price higher," Shkreli said in a response to a question about what he would do differently if he could rewind the clock a few months.

The big drugmakers, whose market caps total $600 billion, aren’t without their own critics. They've been criticized for dodging taxes and the soaring cost of new medications.

“We do some pretty crappy things,” Regeneron CEO Leonard S. Schleifer admitted. Still, “he’s not in the same business as we are.”

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