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‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli to speak at Harvard, with judge’s permission

Martin Shkreli.
Martin Shkreli.Lucas Jackson/REUTERS

Divisive former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli will speak at a Harvard student club next week after a federal judge overseeing his securities fraud trial approved the trip.

In a letter to the judge, lawyers said Shkreli planned “to travel to Massachusetts for a speaking engagement at Harvard University.” Shkreli needs permission to travel long distances as a condition of his $5 million bail.

CNBC reported that Shkreli is speaking at the Harvard Financial Analysts Club. A Feb. 15 speaking engagement for Shkreli is listed on a Facebook page for the club, which didn’t return messages seeking comment. In a Feb. 3 Facebook post, Shkreli said he would be “giving a discussion on investing.”

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Shkreli, formerly the chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, drew intense criticism after the company purchased the rights to a decades-old drug called Daraprim, which treats a rare parasitic infection, and raised the price from less than $17 to $750 per pill.

He was called before a Congressional committee to discuss the price hike, but annoyed lawmakers by repeatedly asserting the Fifth Amendment. Shkreli has pleaded not guilty to securities fraud charges in an unrelated case.

The Harvard Financial Analysts Club offers students finance education and gives them a chance to help manage the club’s mutual fund. The event description posted on the club’s Facebook page said it would be open only to people with Harvard-issued identification.

“This is not a partisan event. If you disagree with Mr. Shkreli or his policies, we celebrate your right to do so,” the event listing said. “We only ask that you express your grievances with respect for your fellow peers and through the appropriate channels,” such as the Q&A session accompanying Shkreli’s talk.

Shkreli’s appearances have caused controversy at other campuses. A joint appearance at the University of California-Davis with far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled last month after large protests.

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The pharmaceutical industry has sought to distance itself from Shkreli and similar drug-price controversies. President Trump is among the critics of high drug prices, saying at a recent press conference that pharma companies were “getting away with murder.”

Shkreli has fired back, compiling a list of high-priced drugs offered by major pharma companies. Among the examples is Cambridge-based Biogen Inc., whose new treatment for a rare disease costs $750,000 per patient in its first year and $375,000 per subsequent year.


Curt Woodward can be reached at curt.woodward@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @curtwoodward.