Bernie Sanders Shut Down Martin Shkreli’s Latest Power Play

October 15th 2015

Three weeks before the first Democratic debate, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli donated $2,700 to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, the maximum individual contribution. Shkreli had hoped to arrange a private meeting to "explain why drug companies set prices the way they do," the Boston Globe reported. But the candidate isn't interested.

"We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed," campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said.

Shkreli came under fire after raising the price of Daraprim, a life-saving drug used to treat an infectious disease, from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. He recently challenged Sanders to a public debate on the pharmaceutical industry, calling him "misinformed" about the price hike. But though the former hedge fund manager said he would lower the price of Daraprim, he has yet to do so.

RELATED: Martin Shkreli Just Challenged Bernie Sanders to a Public Debate

In a puzzling Tweet sent out during the Democratic debate, Shkreli voiced his support for Sanders, acknowledging that he donated to his campaign.

"I saw the debate and he seemed awesome," Shkreli told ATTN: in a direct message on Twitter, confirming that he contributed.

RELATED: Martin Shkreli, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, Destroyed In One Meme

The CEO says he is non-partisan and "actually supports some of Sanders’ other proposals," but his attempt to gain access to the candidate by donating to his campaign apparently failed. Sanders, for his part, feels that the pharmaceutical industry is in desperate need of reform, arguing that healthcare is a human right, which includes access to affordable prescription drugs.

"Americans pay, by far, the highest prices for prescription drugs in the entire world," a statement on Sanders' campaign website reads. "When we talk about health care, we are talking about the need of the American people to be able to afford the medicine their health care providers prescribe."

RELATED: After Martin Shkreli Promises Decrease, Daraprim Price Still Up 5000%

"A life-saving drug does no good if the people who need it cannot afford that drug."

Shkreli told the Boston Globe that he was "furious" that Sanders was attacking him without giving him the opportunity to offer his side of the story.

"I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person," Shkreli said. "He'll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better."

RELATED: Why Martin Shkreli Might Actually Lead to Progress

As it turns out, Sanders won't be taking Shkreli's money.

Last week, Sanders and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) issued a statement condemning the pharmaceutical executive for failing to follow up on his promise to lower the price of Daraprim.

"On behalf of the American people, we are sickened by these actions," Sanders wrote. "Mr. Shkreli is holding hostage the patients who rely on this lifesaving medication, as well as the hospitals that administer it, by charging unconscionable prices for a drug on which he has a monopoly—just because he can."

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