International outrage over a 5,500% price hike for a life-saving drug used by AIDs and cancer sufferers has prompted the chief executive of a pharmaceuticals company - who was dubbed the "most hated man in America" - to backtrack on his decision.
Martin Shkreli, chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired the rights to Daraprim and increased the price from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill.
The company sparked a fierce backlash after raising the price of the drug, which combats toxoplasmosis, an infection that can arise in children because of poor immune systems, as well as patients suffering from AIDS and some form of cancers.
But Shkreli has now U-turned on his decision, announcing on Tuesday that he will be lowering the drug's price to make it "more affordable", yet the exact cost of the drug has not been released.
Speaking to ABC News, he said: “We’ve agreed to lower the price on Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit,” adding: “We think these changes will be welcomed.”
The company obtained the rights to sell the drug - the only America-approved treatment for toxoplasmosis - in August.
Shkreli had previously said that his decision to raise the price by 5,500% was "reasonable" as Turing "is a very small company, it’s a new company and we’re not a profitable company".
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association penned a joint letter to Shkreli telling him the increase was “unjustifiable for the medically-vulnerable patient population.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton called it "outrageous".
Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on. -H https://t.co/9Z0Aw7aI6h— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 21, 2015
A leading NHS doctor also spoke out against the former hedge fund manager, saying it was “disappointing to see a price rise on a drug that's so crucial to patient care”.
Responding to his critics, Shkreli told ABC News: "I think they have a fundamental misunderstanding of the way pharmaceutical companies operate.
"At this price Daraprim is not a substantially profitable drug."
Shkreli announced on social media yesterday that he would be appearing on ABC News to make his "final comments", adding that he would then "turn off Twitter".
His account has since been made "private".