Donald Trump has dismissed Martin Shkreli as a “spoiled brat” after the hedge fund manager hiked up the price of a life-saving drug used by patients with HIV and Aids.
The billionaire business magnate blasted the hedge fund manager for “sitting back smug like he was hot stuff” in the face of an international outcry when his start-up firm Turing Pharmaceuticals obtained the rights to Daraprim and raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750.
Shkreli was dubbed "the most hated man in America" as anger from patients, health bodies and the public grew.
Daraprim is a medicine used to combat toxoplasmosis, a common food-borne parasitic infection that can prove deadly for those with compromised immune systems.
Turing bowed to international pressure and announced it would lower the price of the drug on Wednesday. It is not clear if Trump was aware of this announcement when he spoke to a press conference at the University of South Carolina Koger Centre.
The GOP frontrunner is known for taking a no-holds barred approach to insulting his opponents and critics, often by labelling them “idiots”, “morons” or “losers".
"This young guy raised the price to a level that’s absolutely ridiculous, and he looks like a spoiled brat to me,” he said in answer to a question about Shkreli. “And he’s a hedge fund guy […] and I thought it was a disgusting thing, what he did. I thought it was a disgrace.”
When the reporter suggested many drugs were bought and sold at unaffordable prices, he responded: "I know, it’s terrible, but in particular, there’s something about that one, the way he raised it and to that extent and then he sat back smug like he was hot stuff. That guy is nothing. He's zero. He's nothing. He ought to be ashamed of himself.”
Shkreli attempted to justify the dramatic price increase by saying newer versions of the drug needed to be developed and his was the first company “to really focus on this product” for decades, adding that research was extremely expensive.
He also claimed anyone who does not have insurance would have access to the drug for free. He told ABC News on Tuesday his company will reduce the price of Daraprim to make it affordable, although he did not state what the reduced price would be.
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