A pharmaceutical executive who sparked international outrage when his firm raised the price of a drug used to treat AIDS patients to $750-per-pill was revealed Wednesday to have bought a single record by the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan for $2 million.
Bloomberg reported that Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, had purchased the only extant copy of the album "Once Upon A Time in Shaolin". The album, which was produced last year, includes 31 tracks and a leatherbound 174-page book filled with lyrics and background information on the songs.
When the auction was announced in March 2014, Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA described the album as "a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of music. We're making a single-sale collector's item. This is like someone having the scepter of an Egyptian king."
In response to Bloomberg's report that Shkreli had bought the album, RZA issued a statement to the magazine that said, "The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light. We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity."
Shkreli caused an uproar in September after news broke that Turing increased by more than 5,000 percent the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat a life-threatening infection, jacking it up from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug whose patent expired decades ago, is the only approved treatment for a rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis that mainly strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.
After the outcry in September over Daraprim, Shkreli said the company would reduce the $750-a-pill price. Last month, however, Turing reneged on its pledge. Instead, the company is reducing what it charges hospitals for Daraprim by as much as 50 percent. Most patients' co-payments will be capped at $10 or less a month. But insurance companies will be stuck with the bulk of the tab, potentially driving up future treatment and insurance costs.
On Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the head of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, condemned the drug price hike, calling it "egregious."
Shkreli told Bloomberg that he hasn't listened to the full album yet, though he was allowed to hear highlights during the bidding process.
"I could be convinced to listen to it earlier if Taylor Swift wants to hear it or something like that," he said. "But for now, I think I’m going to kind of save it for a rainy day."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.