“Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli—the former hedge fund manager also known as the “Most Hated Man in the World” for gouging the price of a drug used by AIDs and cancer patients—has decided that the best use of his bail time would be to tour the East Coast to unveil his plan for President Trump to “lower healthcare costs, including prescription drugs.”
“If anyone knows the healthcare system, it’s me,” he wrote in a Facebook post announcing two speaking events in Boston, MA “I will be sending my thoughts to our POTUS privately.”
The irony was not lost on Harvard students, many of whom turned out to protest Shkreli’s scheduled appearance at the Ivy League’s Financial Analysts Club on Wednesday night. Although event organizers had tried to keep the event under wraps, dozens of demonstrators showed up to disrupt the lecture and denounce pharmaceutical profiteering.
Minutes before the event started, someone rang the fire alarm prompting the building to be evacuated. Some protesters made it inside and repeatedly interrupted Shkreli’s presentation, insulting him before making their way out.
“He was heckled—he made a joke about it,” a student in attendance told the Boston Herald.
Others students stood outside the front doors of the Harvard Science Center—where an alternative “teach-in” organized to discuss how Big Pharma ‘s greed threatens patients’ lives was also taking place—chanting “Fight back. Fight AIDS” and “People over profits.”
There were no reports of violence, however.
Students who wished to remain anonymous told the Boston Herald that Shkreli came off as amiable and smart. He spoke to an audience of about 300 people about investing, arguing that higher prescription drug costs were necessary to maintain the pharmaceutical industry afloat and make other drugs more accessible.
“Trump should start a drug company,” he said. “I would be proud to help implement this.”
Others were not so charmed by this plan.
A public policy student at Harvard Kennedy school called Shkreli a “vulture” who is “proud of sucking every last penny out of desperate people,” while a student group decried his appearance as promoting and glorifying “murderous financial practices.”
The 33 year old New York resident, whose personal fortune is estimated at $45,000,000, has been plagued by scandals since the beginning of his career as a hedge fund manager. While CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he was widely scolded for hiking up the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim by a factor of 56 (from $14 to $750 per pill) leading the media to name him America’s Most Hated Man.
Currently free on $5 million bail, his federal securities trial for his time as a hedge fund manager is pending. Shkreli also famously brought the wrath of the rap community down on his head after putting down millions of dollars to acquire Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
An event planned at Webster Hall in New York City on Monday, where Shkreli was due to“play tracks” from his unreleased Wu-Tang music collection as well as giving an hour-long lecture on “investing, healthcare and politics” was also canceled after event organizers received threats, Pitchfork reported.
In January, a joint event by Shkreli and conservative flamethrower Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Davis was also canceled amid a storm of protests.
Shkreli is slated to speak Thursday at University of Massachusetts’ (UMass) pro free speech club Young Americans for Liberty.
Protesters are expected to disrupt the event.