'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli was called an 'entitled, privileged prick' by a radio presenter who said he had 'a very douchey air about him' as he discussed hiking AIDs drug prices and online feuds.
The former CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals , which was criticised for raising the price of an AIDs and cancer treatment drug by more than 5,000% from $13.50 (£9.28) to $750 (£515), told hosts of The Breakfast Club, 'I don't want anyone to die. I'm not an animal'.
His 3 February interview on the show came days before his appearance at a US Congressional hearing on his former company's drug pricing, during which he pulled faces, plead the fifth and took to Twitter afterwards to call politicians 'imbeciles'.
Asked by hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God about his decision to increase the price of Daraprim, Shkreli said: "In law, you can be prosecuted for not maximising profits, in fact I know people who have. And you have to do everything in your power to make as much money as possible in the system we have – that's business.
"You can't hold back, you can't go halfway and we did the analysis and we said we can go to $750, and nothing's changed. People will pay the $750 – well not people the insurance companies.
"No one is going to actually throw the bills down."
Asked about whether it was true that people without the proper health insurance cover could get the drug for free, he said: "Absolutely. I'm not going to let someone die, I'm not an animal. We have a system, man, if you don't have insurance you get it free off the bat. Your doctor prescribes it, you go talk to your doctor first, he writes a prescription, and it gets sent to our pharmacy. If you don't have insurance you fill out a form and you get the drugs for free. Two thirds of our drug we sell for free. People don't know that, people don't want to know that.
"A lot of times people want an enemy, they are going to get an enemy... and if I'm that enemy for you I'm happy man, I'm fulfilling some need in your life."
Questioned on whether the hike in cost to insurance companies would push up the price of insurance for regular people, Shkreli, who once bought a Wu Tang Clan album for $2m, admitted: "Absolutely, absolutely. But I don't want that. This is one of the smallest drugs... this is not something everyone is taking. A few thousand people take this medicine, it's very rarely used.
"So in the scheme of things this is 0001% of the drugs business... if Ghost tried to charge $750 for his next record just as few people would buy it for the second time around, but it wouldn't change the music business. There's drugs three times this price, 10 times this price. If you know the drug business you know that this is not that expensive."
But Shkreli was not asked about criticisms that the change in pricing for the drug could change the way in which it is prescribed, forcing different, possibly less effective, drugs to be used by hospitals instead.
During the Congressional hearing, Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings pleaded with Shkreli to consider the consequences of his actions, adding: "Drug company executives are lining their pockets at the expense of some of the most vulnerable families in our nation. It's not funny, Mr. Shkreli. People are dying and they're getting sicker and sicker."
But Shkreli did not appear moved by Cummings' statements, smirking throughout his speech and refusing to comment when asked questions.
Currently facing unrelated charges of security fraud, with his December 2015 arrest preceding his resignation as Turning CEO, Shkreli said on the radio show that he wasn't scared of going to prison and that nothing scared him.
He added that he had a lawyer who "represented Diddy, J, 50, and he represented some people who aren't rappers too. He's probably the best lawyer in the world."
Asked about his online feud with Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah, which saw Shkreli release a video threatening the rapper after he referred to him as a 's*** head' for hiking the price of Daraprim, Shkreli told the radio hosts: "You don't say s*** about me and not expect it back. If he were here right now, I'd smack him right in the face...I would never call the police, it's open season, come at me, it don't matter. Open season and in fact I think there's a saying you're all familiar with – I wish you would."
Charlemagne responded, laughing: "You entitled privileged prick, who are you?"
The multi-millionaire, who denied being privileged, told hosts he had had a normal upbringing and grew up in Brooklyn, becoming a troubled teen who never graduated from high school, adding: "I'm telling you, I'm from the streets. 2009 how much money do you think I had in my bank account? I had $100."
Ending the interview, Charlamagne told Shkreli: "I still don't know how I feel about you. You have a very douchey air about you but I like the fact you came from nothing and made something happen," referring to him as "the leader of the douche tang clan".