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Martin Shkreli On EpiPen Price Hike: They're 'Vultures'

Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical company CEO whose name has become synonymous with prescription drug price-gouging, is speaking out about the Aug. 17 announcement that the cost of EpiPens will increase by more than 500 percent.

"These guys are really vultures," he told NBC News in an interview. "What drives this company's moral compass?"

Shkreli’s response is curious, considering how in 2015 he approved a price hike of Darapim, a malaria and HIV medicine, overnight from $13.50 to $750.

Mylan Pharmaceutical company has gradually increased the price of EpiPens, which are used to counteract severe allergic reaction, since 2007, when a two-pack cost $56.64 wholesale. Since 2013, the price of EpiPens has increased by 15 percent every other quarter. The new price will be $365.16, an increase of 544.77 percent.

Shkreli said he considered gradual price increases with Darapim, but ultimately the company felt “the math ... was a little silly," so it "decided to come out and say ‘This is our desired price.’”

Mylan’s decision to increase the price of EpiPens occurred after a competing medication, the Auvi-Q from pharmaceutical company Sanofi U.S., had to be recalled because of inaccurate dosage issues, The Huffington Post reports.

With Auvi-Q off the market, there are few options left -- and all are expensive -- for people who have severe allergies and must keep an epinephrine pen with them at all times. Adrenaclick, who makes an epinephrine injectable, charges nearly $400 for a two-pack.

The EpiPen was prescribed to patients more than 3.6 million times in 2015, while doctors only prescribed Adrenaclick a few hundred times.

Calls for a more consumer-friendly priced epinephrine injectable have been made, and Shkreli chimed in on the idea.

“There are drugs 10x size of epipen & have not had competition yet b/c these "windfalls" just aren't big enough to spur competitive interest,” he tweeted on Aug. 19.

In  a statement, Mylan Pharmaceuticals said the rise of high-deductible health insurance plans in the U.S. have increased the burden of EpiPen costs on patients:

We encourage all patients and families to thoroughly review and understand their options when selecting healthcare insurance coverage. With the Affordable Care Act, there are options available. Premiums, prescription coverage, out-of-pocket limits and deductibles can vary widely. Often, plans offering lower premiums have higher deductibles, and many options now have separate pharmacy and medical expense deductibles.

Sources: NBC News, The Huffington Post, Martin Shkreli/Twitter / Photo Credit: Greg Friese/Flickr

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