And the winner of the prestigious “Scumbag of the Year” award is……Martin Shkreli!! My daughter wanted to award him the “Douche bag of the Year” award which is an indicator to me of gender equality.
This candidate has quickly overtaken the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion a few weeks ago as the most hated man in America – or at least the most hated man in the internet and Twitter world.
How quickly we forget. The rage of Americans now lasts no longer than three weeks. All is quickly forgotten; after that to be replaced by a new outrage.
Our latest millenial wise-ass (and gamer – he plays on League of Legends – look it up if you don’t know) is a 31 year old millionaire venture capitalist hedge fund fund manager and founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals (Allen Turing is turning over in his grave to see his name used by this jerk).
Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to the drug Daraprim, a common anti-parasitic drug that is used to prevent malaria and fight infections like toxoplasmosis that can arise from AIDS and cancer, This drug is not a widely used drug but for those with compromised immune systems it can be the difference between life and death.
Capitalism however does not give a shit. “Not my problem”. Skreli raises money from billionaires – it’s their “play” money. “Here Martin – see what you can find to get me a really good return on this”.
Our young a-hole immediately hiked the price up from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The company and its CEO quickly became the subject of a furious backlash. The pill, you see, costs about $1 to manufacture. I guess $13.50 wasn’t enough profit margin.
As an old drug, Daraprim has no patent protection, but until now sales have been so small that no generic companies have been interested in making it.
Turing paid $55 million to acquire the drug from Impax Laboratories, a deal that made sense only if Turing planned to raise the price of the drug substantially.
A condition of the deal was that Impax remove the drug from regular wholesalers and drugstores, which would make it harder for generic companies to obtain samples needed to develop generic copies. In June, two months before the sale to Turing was announced, Impax switched to tightly controlled distribution.
Once Turing obtained the drug, it quickly raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, drawing protests from infectious disease doctors that ignited the firestorm.
Even Hillary Clinton huffed and puffed although no one but Bernie Sanders talks about government regulation of drug prices.
So our already wealthy candidate for the title came under fierce attack in the Twitter universe and the New York Times – he was the new poster boy for greed and avarice.
Did he give a shit?
Hell no. He came out swinging in defense of his actions.
Twitter “seems to be a great medium for socialist and liberal rage”; his critics were “morons”.
Shkreli did a news show circuit as well, beginning with Bloomberg, where he attempted to argue that Daraprim had been underpriced before Turing swept in.
“The price per course of treatment to save your life was only $1,000 and we know these days, with modern pharmaceuticals, cancer drugs can cost $100,000 or more, rare-disease drugs can cost half a million dollars.”
Shkreli said it as if we should be shocked that cheap, life-saving medicine could cost less than a laptop. When we’re not, he calls us morons. Shades of a celebrity Presidential candidate.
This isn’t Shkreli’s first price-hiking biotech rodeo. In fact, a year ago, when he was the CEO of Retrophin (another company he founded), his company acquired Thiola and planned to increase its price by over 20 times. Thiola is used to treat cystinuria, an incurable kidney disease. The board of Retrophin fired Shkreli and sued him for $65 million over an alleged misuse of company funds. After being booted, Shkreli, as appears to be his custom, lashed out on Twitter at his critics.
He got in trouble with the FDA for urging that certain drugs up for approval be rejected without disclosing that he had shorted the bio-tech company’s stock.
“But as reprehensible as Shkreli’s actions might appear, what is even more harrowing is that they are not illegal. With his social media swagger, Shkreli makes an easy target for a problem that extends far beyond the confines of his ego: the rampant overpricing of life-saving medicine. As USA Today reported, many new cancer drugs cost over $100,000 per year—a fact that Shkreli, ironically, sees as justification for raising the cost of Daraprim. And technically, there’s no way to stop him.”
Shkreli said it was not his fault if people who needed the drug could no longer afford it. “I’m a capitalist”.
So there you have it folks. My candidate for Scumbag of the Year.
Where does one even begin to address the ethics of the actions of a narcissistic young wealthy man with such Randian attitudes towards others? Be assured that his is the attitude of Wall Street; we must do something about an old drug that can save your life for only $1,000. We will buy it up and raise the price to $100,000. And make lots of money in the process. Capitalism is not about humanity.
Jonas Salk is turning over in his grave.
My eldest daughter, with a finely tuned sense of justice, shakes her head in disbelief.
Our candidate, who has become the bad boy of the bio-tech industry indicated that he will consider reducing the price of the drug over the next few weeks. He didn’t say when or by how much.
He’s waiting for our three week attention span to pass.