The Internet Eviscerates Pharmaceutical CEO After He Raises Medicine’s Price Over 5,000 Percent In ONE Day, He Responds With Eminem Quote

by 4 years ago

For the most part the unregulated free market does a decent job at setting fair prices for goods and services with the help of supply and demand. However a recent exorbitant price gouging of a generic lifesaving pill has highlighted the unquenchable greed of Big Pharma and drawn the ire of the Internet.

Daraprim is a drug used to treat parasitic infections called toxoplasmosis which can be found in babies, pregnant women and AIDS and certain cancer patients, and has been available for 62 years. However in ONE day the price for one tablet went from $13.50 to $750. For those without math skills or a calculator handy, that is an absurd 5,455 percent increase! IN. ONE. DAY. Only a few years ago before the patent was sold and bought to different pharmaceutical companies, the price of the pill was only $1.

The cause of this unbelievable price hike is the handy work of Martin Shkreli, the the founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. He’s a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager, who’s pharmaceutical company purchased the patent to Daraprim in August.

Shkreli claimed that Daraprim is used so minuscule that it would have minimal impact on the health care system. “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business,” he said. Shkreli also said that many of the patients that use the drug only do so for short amounts of time and that the new robust price was now more in line with those of other drugs for rare diseases. However there are some estimates that gauge about 60 million people in the United States may carry toxoplasmosis, which can be born from eating undercooked meat, drinking unclean water, and being in contact with infected cat feces.

“This is still one of the smallest pharmaceutical products in the world,” Shkreli added. “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this.”

He also claimed that the profits from the inflated price would allow his company to develop new treatments toxoplasmosis, but with fewer side effects.

Shkreli has a history of this kind of unscrupulous manipulation of old drugs. In 2011, he started the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin, which also acquired neglected drugs and then sharply raised their prices. Shkreli was fired by Retrophin’s board a year ago. The company accused him of using Retrophin as a personal piggy bank to pay back angry investors in his hedge fund and last month they filed a complaint in the Federal District Court in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Shkreli has denied these accusations, and has filed for arbitration against his former company, which he claims owes him at least $25 million in severance. “They are sort of concocting this wild and crazy and unlikely story to swindle me out of the money,” Shkreli said.

Then back in his 20s, Shkreli started the hedge fund MSMB Capital and was accused of urging the FDA to not approve certain drugs made by companies whose stock he was shorting.

The appalling story was featured on New York Times, went viral on Reddit even caught the eye of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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Which seemed to have a direct and immediate dip in the NASDAQ biotech index.

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People asked important questions on Twitter and Shkreli responded.

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There were those on Twitter who were not so shy about telling Shkreli how they really felt.

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Even the infamous Cup O Farts made a stink about the horrendous situation.

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When he wasn’t calling journalists “morons,” Shkreli answered his critics by quoting a line from Eminem’s hit track “The Way I Am.”

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Probably not how a even-keeled CEO like Steve Jobs would handle criticism, but I suppose it’s effective.

He even protects his neck by quoting the Wu-Tang Clan.

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In his defense, he does own one of Kurt Cobain’s credit cards.

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To be honest, the Kurt Cobain credit card is a pretty nifty piece of memorabilia. Probably not worth ratcheting up the price of medicine that dying people depend on so you can afford such rare curiosities, but still pretty cool.

[NYT/Death&Taxes]


TAGSBig PharmaEminemMartin Shkreli