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Fire alarm, protests disrupt ex-pharma exec Shkreli's talk

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2016 file photo, Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on his former company's decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. A fire alarm and student protests have disrupted controversial former pharmaceutical executive Shkreli's appearance at Harvard University. The former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals was invited by the Harvard Financial Analysts Club to discuss investing at the Wednesday night, Feb. 15, 2017, event. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2016 file photo, Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on his former company's decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. A fire alarm and student protests have disrupted controversial former pharmaceutical executive Shkreli's appearance at Harvard University. The former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals was invited by the Harvard Financial Analysts Club to discuss investing at the Wednesday night, Feb. 15, 2017, event. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A fire alarm rang out moments before indicted former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli was to speak at Harvard University, briefly delaying an appearance that also was disrupted by student protests.

The former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who was widely criticized for hiking up the price of a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients to fight parasitic infections, was invited by the Harvard Financial Analysts Club to discuss investing at the Wednesday night event. But a few minutes before it began, someone pulled a fire alarm and police evacuated the building.

When the event did start, protesters kept interrupting Shkreli's presentation, chanting and calling him names before walking out. There were no reports of any violence.

One student group said the appearance "promotes and glorifies murderous financial practices." It organized a rally and an alternate "teach-in" to discuss pharmaceutical price-gouging while Shkreli's event was taking place.

The Boston Globe reported that most of Shkreli's presentation focused on his experience in hedge fund management and health care. Toward the end of his discussion, he said he had a solution for the high price of prescription drugs.

"Trump should start a drug company," he said. "I would be proud to help implement this."

The 33-year-old New York resident is free on $5 million bail pending his federal securities fraud trial in an unrelated case. He has pleaded not guilty. A judge earlier this month approved his request to travel to Massachusetts.

In January, a joint appearance by Shkreli and far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Davis was cancelled after heated protests erupted.

Shkreli is scheduled to speak at UMass-Boston Thursday.