Martin Shkreli, who became famous as head of Turing Pharmaceuticals after he jacked up the price of an old drug by more than $700 a pill, has resigned, the company said in a statement.
The resignation came a day after Shkreli was arrested on securities fraud charges and was released on $5 million bail.
Ron Tilles, the chairman of the board of directors, will take over as interim chief executive.
“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. At the same time, I am very excited about the opportunity to guide Turing Pharmaceuticals forward," Tilles said in the statement.
Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, founded Turing earlier this year and gained notoriety when he massively increased the price of a 62-year-old drug used to treat an infection that affects cancer and HIV patients. The 32-year-old chief executive stubbornly and very publicly defended the controversial price hike as a good business practice and was adamant that no patient would suffer.
The factors that led to Shkreli's arrest yesterday had nothing to do with Turing, but a previous biotech company, Retrophin. Shkreli founded that company in 2011, and was replaced by its board of directors last year. According to federal prosecutors, he lied to investors and used transactions at Retrophin to cover bad bets at his hedge funds.
"A new chapter for Retrophin began the day the company replaced Martin Shkreli more than a year ago—and that decision has been vindicated by today’s indictment," a statement released by Retrophin said Thursday. "Upon discovering potential misconduct by Mr. Shkreli, we authorized an independent investigation, filed a lawsuit against him, and fully cooperated with the government investigations. As the indictment says, Mr. Shkreli engaged in 'a scheme to defraud Retrophin.'"
Shkreli has been called a range of monikers, ranging from "pharma bro" to the country's most hated CEO. It was his defiant attitude and apparent eagerness to say things he knew would inflame people's emotions that made him a target of so much public loathing. Presidential candidates and investigative Congressional committees have named him as a target of inquiry over the past few months -- a fact that Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University Langone Medical Center says is a distraction from the real problems in health care and the forces driving spending on drugs up. Part of the national obsession with Shkreli -- whose Google searches soared higher than Donald Trump's yesterday -- is just that Shkreli lifted a drug price and just wouldn't stop talking about it.
"He kept talking to he press, he kept saying, 'Screw you,' he kept taunting," Caplan said. "Really, most people raising prices are in limos with windows you can’t see into. ... It's like, great, we’re focused in irresistibly on this evil twerp."
Shkreli had planned to take Turing public this year, and the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Shkreli that could prevent him from serving on a company board. He remains head of KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, a drug company trying to get U.S. approval for a drug to treat Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic ailment. Shkreli did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Glad to be home. Thanks for the support.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 18, 2015