Bernie Sanders has rejected a political donation from Martin Shkreli, the drug company boss who tried to rise the price of an Aids and cancer drug by 5,455%.
“We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,” said the Democratic presidential hopeful’s spokesman Michael Briggs.
Shkreli’s $2,700 donation – the maximum individual contribution allowed – will be handed over to the Whitman-Walker health clinic in Washington, which specialises in treating HIV/Aids patients in the LGBT community.
The Turing Pharmaceutical CEO, who had announced an increase in the price of parasitic infection drug Daraprim to $750 a pill from $13.50 a pill, said he was “furious” that Sanders has publicly rejected his money without discussing his side of the story on drug pricing.
Shkreli, 32, who made the donation last month, told the Boston Globe that he had made the donation in order to secure a private meeting with Sanders, a Vermont senator. “I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person,” Shkreli said. “He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.”
He said that if given the chance he would like to ask Bernie Sanders if he understood that drug companies sometimes need to charge high prices in order to pay for life-saving pharmaceutical developments.
“Is he willing to sort of accept that there is a tradeoff, that to take risks for innovation, companies have to invest lots of money and they need some kind of return for that, and what does he think that should look like?” Shkreli said. “And quite frankly, what I’m worried [about] is that he doesn’t have an answer for that, that he’s appealing to the masses, that he’s just kind of talking out of his rear end so that he gets some votes.”