CEO known for substantial drug price hike arrested on securities fraud charges

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015, file photo, activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices, during a protest in New York highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing. Americans from across the political spectrum are worried about the cost of prescription drugs for serious diseases, following weeks of news coverage about companies hiking prices for critical medicines. Keeping drugs for cancer, hepatitis, HIV and other conditions affordable is the top health priority for Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to a poll released Wednesday, Oct. 27, by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is in custody following a securities probe.

Calls to an attorney that has represented Shkreli in the past were not immediately returned. His arrest was confirmed Thursday by FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.

Shkreli stirred public outrage earlier this fall when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals jacked the price of a drug used to treat a life-threatening infection by more than 5,000 percent. Turing raised the price on Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug whose patent expired decades ago, from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The drug is the only approved treatment for a rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis that mainly strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.

Shkreli said the company would cut the drug’s price. Last month, however, Turing reneged on its pledge. Instead, the company is reducing what it charges hospitals for Daraprim by as much as 50 percent. Most patients’ copayments will be capped at $10 or less a month. But insurance companies will be stuck with the bulk of the tab, potentially driving up future treatment and insurance costs.

Turing, with offices in New York and Switzerland, bought U.S. rights to sell Daraprim in August, when it had no competition. Daraprim is one of numerous old drugs with limited competition whose makers have raised prices sharply.

Rising pharmaceutical prices has become a topic in the upcoming U.S. presidential race.

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