Now Reading
Bernie Sanders gives money from controversial drug company CEO to HIV clinic

Bernie Sanders gives money from controversial drug company CEO to HIV clinic

L-R: Bernie Sanders has donated Martin Shkreli's money to an HIV clinic

Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has rebuffed a request to meet with the much-criticized CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli – and instead given a donation from Shkreli away to an AIDS charity, reports Stat.

Shkreli made headlines last month when it was announced that his company was increasing the price of the drug Daraprim – used to treat patients with AIDS and other diseases that weaken the immune system – from $13.50 to $750 a pill.

The former hedge fund manager is perhaps a surprising supporter of Sanders, who is widely seen as the most left-wing of the current Democratic candidates for Presidential nomination.

Turing Pharmaceuticals is currently being investigated by the New York Attorney General into concerns that it may have taken actions to prevent other companies from producing legal, generic versions of Daraprim.

Shkreli told Stat yesterday that he made the maximum possible individual donation of $2,700 to the Vermont Senator’s campaign at the end of September. He said that he supported some of Sanders policies and wanted to meet with the senator for a private meeting to explain why drug companies set prices as they do.

However, a campaign spokesperson, Michael Briggs, told Stat, ‘We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed.’

Shkreli is apparently ‘furious’ at the rebuff, saying: ‘I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person. He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.’

Shkreli has defended the price hike by saying that Daraprim – whose patent Turing acquired in August – was previously being undersold and that the money could be used to develop other drugs to treat toxoplasmosis; the illness for which the drug was created.

‘I’d ask him, what role does innovation play in health care?’ Shkreli said of Sanders. ‘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?

‘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.’

Brigg confirmed that the Sanders campaign are donating the money to the Whitman-Walker Health Clinic in Washington. On its website, the clinic describes itself as, ‘the highest quality, culturally competent community health center serving greater Washington’s diverse urban community, including individuals who face barriers to accessing care, and with a special expertise in LGBT and HIV care.’