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24th February 2017

Martin Shkreli Harvard talk interrupted by fire alarm and walk-outs

Invited by a student group, Shkreli’s talk at Harvard University was met with protests and controversy

Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, was invited to speak at Harvard University by the Harvard Financial Analysts Club earlier this month.

Moments before his talk was due to start, the fire alarm was set off, resulting in an evacuation of the building by police. The event eventually proceeded after a half an hour delay, but not without further interruptions by student heckles and walk-outs. The Boston Globe reports that Shkreli responded: “Nobody cares, goodbye.”

In 2015, Shkreli was widely condemned and criticised for increasing the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat AIDS, from $13.50 to $750 per unit.

He is currently awaiting trial, free on a $5,000,000 bail, for an unrelated case of securities fraud. Shkreli was also more recently under fire for the alleged harassment of journalist Lauren Duca on Twitter, earning him a suspension from the social media site.

The event at Harvard was mainly focused on hedge fund management and healthcare. During the talk, several waves of students walked out to attend the ‘teach-in’ event held in a lecture theatre close by.

Organised by the Harvard College Global Health and AIDS Coalition, the panel discussion raised issues on unethical pharmaceutical practices and the treatment of AIDS.

Shkreli did not address any of the past drug-hiking allegations. However, towards the end of the event he did comment on a solution to high drug pricing through government intervention, stating that President Donald Trump should start a drug company, something he would be happy to support.

Another event was held the day after at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston, where Shkreli defended the high price of some drug treatments. Although similar controversies were raised before the event, the talk ran with minimal interruptions.

Shkreli was also set to appear at University of California with right-wing sensationalist Milo Yiannopoulos earlier this month, but the visit was cancelled just half an hour prior to its start due to the break out of heated protests.

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