A day after he was arrested for fraud, outspoken US executive Martin Shkreli has quit as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. He gained notoriety for jacking up the price of an HIV drug by 5,000 percent.
Controversial US pharmaceutical boss Martin Shkreli stepped down from running the New York-based Turing Pharmaceuticals on Friday after he was arrested a day earlier for alleged securities fraud at another drug company and hedge fund he managed.
His interim replacement, Ron Tiles, thanked the 32-year-old for "helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research-focused company it is today."
Shkreli was charged with running a Ponzi scheme at his former company, where he lied to investors, moved money between investments to cover losses elsewhere and siphoned off cash for personal expenses.
Federal prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2014, Shkreli lost some of his hedge fund investors' money through bad trades, then looted Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company where he was CEO, for $11 million (10.12 million euros) to pay back his disgruntled clients.
He was released on $5 million bail after pleading not guilty to charges of securities fraud and conspiracy, which carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years, if he is convicted.
America's most-hated man?
The pharmaceutical executive is already a controversial figure, who was vilified by politicians and the public alike after hiking the price of a life-saving drug used to treat parasite infections from $13.50 a tablet to $750. Among those affected were people infected with HIV-AIDS.
Shkreli was accused of price-gouging and faced even more criticism for his arrogant reaction to the scandal. Eventually he agreed to reduce the price but later reneged on his promise.
Hours after his arrest, Shkreli tweeted that he was glad to be home and thanked his Twitter followers for their support.
Meanwhile a huge social media campaign gained traction around the hashtags #schadenfreude - the German word for 'happiness at the misfortune of others' - and #Karma, with the public and HIV-AIDS activists celebrating his apparent fall from grace.
Acting chief Tilles, who is also Turing's chairman, vowed on Friday to make Daraprim affordable.
"We remain committed to ensuring that all patients have ready and affordable access to Daraprim," he said. "Turing Pharmaceuticals is poised for great success in the coming years."
mm/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)