THE most hated man in America who hiked the price of an HIV drug by 5,000 per cent has been arrested by the FBI on fraud charges.
Martin Shkreli faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of stealing £7 million ($11 million) from a pharmaceutical company where he was chief executive in a bid to repay disgruntled investors whose money he had lost between 2009 and 2014.
The 32-year-old and relentless self-promoter who has called himself “the world’s most eligible bachelor” was arrested and taken to a Brooklyn court on Thursday.
In September he ignited fury after his drug company hiked the price of Daraprim – used to treat HIV patients – from £8.50 ($13.50) to £485 ($750) per pill.
US Attorney Robert Capers said the Turing Pharmaceuticals chief executive – who was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy unrelated to the price hike – had “engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit”.
Social media users expressed their delight in Shkreli’s arrest, branding him a greedy, arrogant “punk” who gave capitalism a bad name and got what was coming to him.
Some even cracked jokes about lawyers jacking up their hourly fees 5,000 percent to defend him.
The 62-year-old drug is the only approved treatment for toxoplasmosis – a rare parasitic disease that mainly strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.
Shkreli initially defended the increase by saying that insurance and other programs would enable patients to get the drug and that the profits would help fund research into new treatments.
He said: “No one wants to say it, no one’s proud of it, but this is a capitalist society, a capitalist system and capitalist rules.
“And my investors expect me to maximise profits, not to minimise them or go half or go 70 percent but to go to 100 percent of the profit curve.”