In 2015, Martin Shkreli made headlines for raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat AIDS, by 5,000%. The media dubbed him “Pharma Bro,” and some called him the most hated man in America.
But for Christy Smythe, this was just the beginning of a love story.
Smythe was, at the time, a court reporter for Bloomberg News. She had covered Shkreli’s story, and when he was indicted for securities fraud, she was the first to break the story.
“He called me, and he was super nice,” Smythe said.
Despite her initial interaction with Shkreli, Smythe said she had the same negative impression as the rest of the public.
“My very first impression of him was the same as everyone else’s. This guy is full of crap, he’s lying, he’s trying to manipulate me,” she continued.
But Ingle noted, “Christie says he quickly changed her mind.”
“From sitting down and talking to him more, there was this earnestness, this kind of child-like innocence almost. To me, it felt like someone who was fragile and hiding in this bravado,” Smythe noted.
Smythe continued to cover the story of the Pharma Bro, their friendship growing.
But in 2017, Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud with his bail revoked, and it was at that moment Smythe realized the depth of her feelings.
“I was in denial about it for a long time,” she told Ingle. “Here I am this objective journalist, I can’t be having these feelings…but after he went to prison, it was a shock to my system.”
“Love is love, what are you going to do?” she said.
What Smythe did was uproot her life, eventually leaving her husband, and begin a romantic relationship with an incarcerated convict.
Not long after this initial realization, Smythe visited Shkreli in prison. “I simply told him I loved him…he said that he loved me too…it was beautiful,” Smythe said.
But the budding romance took a different turn when, in December 2020, Smythe published a piece in Elle Magazine about her relationship with the convict.
The piece, titled “The Journalist and the Pharma Bro,” was met with immense backlash online, and Smythe said Shkreli didn’t want her to do it.
His initial reaction was a public statement, released by Shkreli’s lawyer who said, simply, “Mr. Shkreli wishes Ms. Smythe the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
Despite this initially cool response, Smythe said she talked to Shkreli on the phone several days later, with each being able to explain themselves.
When it comes to the future, Smythe said she was committed to seeing the relationship through.
“I’m committed to seeing this through,” she told Ingle. “To seeing what it looks like if we’re together on the outside.”
“It’s a life-defining adventure, I think, no matter what happens in the future, I am absolutely glad I have done it.”
“And, I love him, and I hope whatever happens in the future that this turns out not to be a tragic story, but something with, maybe not a happy ending, but at least a peaceful productive ending.”
Whether that peaceful ending will come to fruition will have to wait until 2023. And until then, Smythe will be making the most of her life without Pharma Bro.
For Christie Smythe’s full telling of her relationship with Pharma Bro, sign up on Fox Nation and watch “Falling for Pharma Bro.”
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