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Sanders rejects donation from drug CEO accused of price gouging

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign is rejecting a donation from much-maligned Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, who has been under fire over drug prices.

Shkreli tried to donate $2,700, but the campaign said no thanks.

“We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,” Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told The Boston Globe on Thursday.

{mosads}The Sanders campaign said it will donate the money to a Washington-based health clinic instead.

Turing Pharmaceuticals drew national scorn after it raised the price of a unique treatment for a rare parasitic infection by 4,000 percent overnight, a move Sanders described as “blatant profiteering.”

Shkreli said he donated the money to Sanders in order to try to set up a meeting with the self-proclaimed democratic socialist to explain his side of the story.

“I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person,” Shkreli said in an interview with Stat on Thursday. “He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.”

Shkreli said he was “furious” that Sanders has used him as a punching bag against Big Pharma without giving him a chance to explain his point of view.

“I’d ask him, what role does innovation play in health care?” Shkreli said in the interview. “Is he willing to sort of accept that there is a tradeoff, that to take risks for innovation, companies have to invest lots of money and they need some kind of return for that, and what does he think that should look like?”

He accused Sanders of “talking out of his rear end so that he gets some votes.”

At the first Democratic primary debate on Tuesday, Sanders said he is proud of being tough on the pharmaceutical industry.

Tags Bernie Sanders

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