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Five Moments Leading Up To Arrest of Pharma’s “Bad Boy”

In the months leading up to his arrest, Shkreli became one of the most hated figures in America.

Five Moments Leading Up To Arrest of Pharma’s “Bad Boy”
Martin Shkreli (2nd R), CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, is brought out of 26 Federal Plaza by law enforcement officials after being arrested for securities fraud on December 17, 2015 in New York City. [Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images]

Martin Shkreli has stepped down from his post as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, just one day after federal authorities charged the “bad boy” of biotech with securities fraud. Turing announced in a statement today the appointment of Ron Tilles to the position of interim chief executive officer.

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“We wish to thank Martin for helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research focused company it is today, and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Tiles said.

Statement aside, this is no standard executive move. In the six months building up to his arrest, Shkreli succeeded in become one of the “most hated men in America.” Here’s how he did it:

Short selling biotech stocks

In his twenties, Shkreli set up his own hedge fund and began posting hit pieces on gossip websites to destroy the reputations of biotech companies whose shares he was shorting. That prompted a nonprofit called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to publicly call him out for manipulating the FDA for his own gain. He’s now one of the best in the business at short selling.

The Price Gouging

In August, Shkreli acquired a 62-year-old drug called Daraprim that primarily treats infections in AIDS patients. Virtually overnight, the cost of the drug increased from $13.50 to $750. Hillary Clinton subsequently tweeted that such price gouging of specialty drugs is “outrageous.”

The Obnoxious Tweets

“50-100 date solicitations a day for me, the world’s most eligible bachelor. Sorry, but you have to be a shareholder to meet me,” he tweeted recently. The tweets served to add to the growing controversy, coupled with media appearances in which he appeared to disregard and even jeer at his critics.

That Wu Tang album

In December, Shkreli announced he would spend $2 million to purchase the only existing new album from Wu Tang Clan. Unfortunately that album was not seized by the FBI after Shkreli’s arrest.

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The arrest

According to an SEC filing, the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission accused Shkreli of misappropriating more than $1 million in investors’ money from his two hedge funds. Federal officials referred to Shkreli’s actions as a quasi-ponzi scheme.

About the author

Christina Farr is a San Francisco-based journalist specializing in health and technology. Before joining Fast Company, Christina worked as a reporter for VentureBeat, Reuters and KQED.

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