Increasing the price of 62-year-old AIDS drug, Daraprim by over 5,500% – that’ll do it. The internet has deemed Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals the face of the new “scumbag CEO” meme.
Without breaking a straight face, Shkreli justified increasing the price of the drug because the company needed to turn a profit on the drug” where previously other companies were “just giving it away almost”
The drug Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that is not especially harmful to the general population, however can very seriously affect people with weakened immune systems – such as those who have contracted AIDS – and costs approximately $1 to produce. It is also used to treat malaria. Prior to Shkreli’s acquisition of the drug, it had been sold at $13.50, but the smirking proponent of everything that is wrong with corporate America immediately increased the price to a whopping $750 per pill, increasing the annual treatment per patient from just over $11,000 to as much as $634,500, according to Infectious Disease News website Healio.
Defending himself to the New York Times, Shitkreli stated “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business. This is still one of the smallest pharmaceutical products in the world,” adding “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this.” He further went on to defend his actions by claiming that the price increase would help improve the product, a claim disputed by Dr. Wendy Armstrong of the HIV Medicine Association, who states in the same Healio article that “this is not an infection where we have been looking for more effective drugs”.
Shkreli has a prior record of being a heartless, money-grabbing bastard, having previously courted controversy as a hedge-fund manager by allegedly trying to manipulate the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into not approving drugs made by companies whose stock he was short-selling at the time. He was also subsequently forced out of his prior company Retrophin, which he also founded and which apparently specialized in buying drugs to increase their prices. A $65 million dollar lawsuit has since been filed against him for “breech of loyalty” – as in, using company finances for his own personal gain.
Shares in US Pharma dropped yesterday as Hillary Clinton – seizing on popular opinion prior to next year’s presidential elections – promised to wade in and regulate the pricing of medicinal drugs.
Twitter lit up in response to the news, with Shkreli defending himself mostly by insulting people who voiced their disapproval. Apart from being forced to back down from such heinous behaviour, let’s also hope he never acquires a license to produce aspirin.