- Title: 'Pharma bro' stirs mixed feelings in his ancestral Albanian village
- Date: 27th July 2017
- Summary: DEDAJ-SHKREL, ALBANIA (JULY 24, 2017) (REUTERS) DEDAJ-SHKREL/MOUNTAIN SCENERY CATHOLIC CHURCH CAR DRIVING ON MOUNTAIN ROAD VARIOUS OF A BOY RIDING A HORSE, CARRYING EMPTY WATER BOTTLES SHKREL MUNICIPALITY BUILDING MAP OF SHKREL REGION SIGN READING "REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA-SHKREL MUNICIPALITY" VARIOUS OF FRAN SHKRELI SITTING WITH HIS WIFE AT HOME (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) PENSIONER, FRAN SHKRELI, SAYING: "Shkrel is the name of this place. Most of the people who emigrated from here took this name, when they emigrated to Yugoslavia they used Shkreli as their surname. I have this surname too. They (Martin Shkreli's family) immigrated in 1964 to America, I don't know him personally, but they are from our village and they first immigrated to Yugoslavia then to America." DOLLS DRESSED IN ALBANIAN FOLK COSTUMES (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) PENSIONER, FRAN SHKRELI, SAYING: "He is not an ordinary man. The newspapers would not write about an ordinary man. He is important in business. The American Congress had dealings with him. The courts have had dealings with him. As for the rise of the (medical) prices it is a matter of the law. He looks like a successful man and I am not ashamed of him, I could even be proud of him as he is known in the world and for me that is not a bad thing." SHKREL SKYLINE DEDAJ-SHKREL, ALBANIA, (JULY 26, 2017) (REUTERS) STREET/LOCAL BAR RESIDENTS IN BAR WAITER SERVING DRINKS (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) SOCIAL INSURANCE OFFICE WORKER, PJERIN IVANAJ, SAYING: "The prices (of medication) went up which had an impact on poor people who can't afford to buy it. These are the two sides of the medal: the pride that we have for him inventing it and the rise of the price for medication for which we felt bad as highlanders." BAR OWNER NIKOLIN STERKAJ SITTING WITH HIS FRIENDS (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) BAR OWNER, NIKOLIN STERKAJ SAYING: "I heard in media that a man from my village bough a pharmaceutical company in America and then he has raised the prices as he pleased, in my opinion in capitalism that works as capitalism itself allows it." PEOPLE SITTING IN THE BAR STERKAJ FAMILY HOME STERKAJ PLAYING WITH HIS CHILDREN BOY PLAYING WITH BALL STERKAJ PLAYING WITH HIS CHILDREN SHEEP VARIOUS OF STERKAJ COVERING HIS HAYSTACK STERKAJ AND HIS CHILDREN LEAVING
- Embargoed: 10th August 2017 11:11
- Keywords: Albania Shkreli USA pharmaceuticals Daraprim
- Location: DEDAJ-SHKREL, ALBANIA
- City: DEDAJ-SHKREL, ALBANIA
- Country: Albania
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA0016RHQSLJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Dubbed the "most hated man in America" by the U.S. press, pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli has brought both pride and shame to his home village in Albania from which he takes his name.
The 34-year-old former drug company executive once claimed he was the most successful Albanian in the world.
But locals in the mountain village of Shkrel where he descends from are divided over "pharma bro", who is vilified for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent and is now on trial for securities fraud in New York.
Some hail him for being a successful businessman, so important that he deals with the highest levels of US government - and judiciary. Others say his decision to raise prices of medications was purely capitalism at work.
Shkreli outraged patients and U.S. lawmakers by raising the price of the anti-infection drug Daraprim to $750 a pill, from $13.50, in 2015, when he was chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals.
He is on trial on charges unrelated to the price hike - for deceiving investors while managing two hedge funds and drug company Retrophin between 2009 and 2014.
Shkreli's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment for this story.
Albania emerged from strict communist isolation in the early 1990s though prosperity has eluded the small Balkan nation.
In many ways, Shkreli is a role model for the more than half of Albania's three million residents who, polls show, would like to move abroad to have a better life - and for many too in his remote home village of 3,500, 125km (78 miles) north of the capital Tirana,
Many were unaware Shkreli had said he was more financially successful than fellow Albanian Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Nobel Peace Prize winner canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint - a comment which triggered a deluge of criticism in social media.
Some in the village remembered the Shkreli family, saying they had moved to Montenegro many years ago and to the United States in the mid-1960s.
Their houses are no longer standing and only one uncle has come back to visit. Martin Shkreli was born and raised in Brooklyn, where other immigrants from Shkrel also ended up.
Today villagers say they struggle to make a living from growing lavender and tobacco, and raising livestock. Money from migrants to Italy and Greece has dwindled because of the economic woes of those countries.
They complain too about infrastructure, saying the area is becoming arid because money to build an aqueduct has been stolen, making the place nearly uninhabitable and encouraging even more people to leave.
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