Shkreli resigns as Turing Pharma CEO – USA TODAY
Martin Shkreli, the medical entrepreneur widely criticizedÂ for ordering large drug price hikes,Â resigned Friday as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, oneÂ day after federal authorities charged him in an unrelated securities fraud scheme.
The privately held company said RonÂ Tilles, chairman of the biopharmaceutical firm with offices in New York and Switzerland,Â will serve as interim CEO while retaining his current position.
“We wish to thank Martin forÂ helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research focused company it is today, and wish himÂ the best in his future endeavors, Tilles said in a statement issued with the announcement. “At the same time, I am very excited about the opportunity to guide TuringÂ Pharmaceuticals forward.”
Federal prosecutors accusedÂ Shkreli, 32, ofÂ perpetuatingÂ a Ponzi scheme on investors in his former hedge funds he led, as well as atÂ Retrophin, another pharmaceutical company he founded and previously headed. AuthoritiesÂ said Shkreli misappropriated funds, lied about investment returns and conspired to defraud Retrophin by issuing companyÂ stock to settle personal disputes.
The criminal indictment handed up in Brooklyn, New York accusedÂ Evan Greebel, 42, a New York lawyer who served as Retrophin’s outside counsel, of aiding the alleged scheme.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on ThursdayÂ filed parallel civil charges against Shkreli. After pleading not guilty at a Thursday arraignment, he denied all of the allegations and issued a statement saying he expects to be vindicated.
“It is no coincidence that these charges, the result of investigations which have been languishing for considerable time, have been filed at the same time of Shkreliâs high-profile, controversial and yet unrelated activities,” Shkreli spokesman Craig Stevens said in theÂ statement.
The statement referred to the public furor that erupted this year after ShkreliÂ raised the price of a Turing medication called Daraprim by more than 5000% â from $13.50 a pill to $750.Â The therapy treatsÂ toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that afflicts people with weakened immune systems, such as individuals suffering from AIDS and pregnant women.
Doctors and other medical industry experts criticized the increase, which also became a topic in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaigns.
Responding to the outcry, Shkreli initially said he would roll back the Daraprim price hike. But he subsequently dropped that plan and repeatedly defended the increase.
Tilles’ statement said Turing was “committed to ensuring that all patients have ready and affordable access to Daraprim” and Vecamyl, a Turing drug for treating malignant hypertension, high blood pressure that develops suddenly.
Turing separately pledged that “no patient needing Daraprim will be denied access.” The company also issued a letter to health care providers that said Turing’s Daraprim DirectÂ program “continues to provide physicians and their patients with multiple assistance options.”
Tilles has served as Turing’sÂ chairman since the company’s launch in late 2014. He began his career at Merrill Lynch in 1985 and later worked with several other securities firms, TuringÂ said.
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