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Man Behind Huge Drug Price Hike Seeks CDC Guidance

(Note: For a transcript of this interview, click here.) 

Martin Shkreli made recent headlines when he purchased the rights to the life-saving drug Daraprim. His company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, then hiked the drug’s cost by 5,000 percent. (Shkreli later said he would reduce the drug’s cost, but that’s not happened, reports Business Insider.)

An anti-parasitic, Daraprim treats toxoplasmosis, an infection generally seen only in those with a compromised immune system due to HIV/AIDS or cancer, for example.

WABE learned Shkreli was here in Atlanta last week to talk with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the drug. While the CDC declined WABE’s interview request, it confirms the meeting took place. Agency spokeswoman Amy Rowland emailed the following statement:

Jeffrey L. Jones, MD MPH, medical epidemiologist and Namita Joshi, associate director for policy, both from CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, met with representatives from Turing Pharmaceuticals—CEO Martin Shkreli and chief science officer Anne Parkinson—on Thursday, Oct. 1. Turing Pharmaceuticals requested the meeting to learn more about CDC activities in toxoplasmosis and CDC’s role as the nation’s lead public health agency.

CDC scientists and staff routinely meet with other scientists, health experts, and officials from public and private institutions and organizations to discuss topics of mutual interest related to improving public health and protecting people from health threats, including infectious diseases.

The meeting with Shkreli and Parkinson lasted about an hour and focused on the way CDC uses disease surveillance and epidemiologic studies to better understand toxoplasmosis and how to prevent and control the infection.

Shkreli says he’s interested in developing an eyedrop form of Daraprim. That’s proven difficult, Shkreli says, and will cost Turing millions of dollars to undertake. Shkreli says that’s one benefit of the price hike he instituted–it funds research and potential new treatments after decades of stagnation.

To listen to the interview between WABE’s Jim Burress and Turing Pharmaceutical’s CEO, Martin Shkreli, click the ‘listen’ icon above.