Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old hedge-fund manager turned pharmaceutical-company C.E.O has been causing quite the stir since it was revealed his company Turing acquired the US rights to the drug Daraprim which treats toxoplasmosis and subsequently raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. A move that provoked national outrage and has given Shkreli the unofficial title of “The world’s most hated man”
Shkreli is now the poster child for capitalistic greed, and on the surface it’s easy to understand why? After-all — He is taking advantage of desperate, suffering victims who’s last chance of survival has been taken away from them by a greedy businessman interested only in lining his own pockets whatever the cost? At least that is what the media would have you believe…
There is much more to this story that needs to be said, and in my opinion Shkreli is being subject to a vindictive PR campaign by rival Pharma companies, politicians and the media to fool us into thinking he’s against our best interest, when in-fact all he’s doing is hurting large conglomerate companies who have been getting away with these price hikes very successfully for years under the radar. It’s understandable why they may be nervous about their gravy train finally coming to an end.
Could it be that the only difference between Shkreli and the CEO’s of other Pharma companies is that he simply enjoys the limelight?
Its fair to say Shkreli has been far from shy across his social media channels and has gained a cult following of supporters in the process, (“You’re a god,” wrote one Twitter follower) and during a recent hearing before a House Oversight Committee, he went on to call his congressional examiners “imbeciles” for questioning his motives behind the price increase.
The furore surrounding Shkreli has been lapped up by the man at the centre of it all, and each day he responds to predictable levels of online abuse with his own unique style —once tweeting “I got anal AIDS, good thing the pill is there for $700”
It’s hard not to wonder who hates him more though? — The public who believe he is a blatant, unapologetic price-gouger, or rival executives, for the increased awareness of their own policies regarding price hiking of drugs that he’s now bringing to global attention.
The internet these days is a very powerful machine that can chew people up and spit them out as quickly and as easily as uploading an uninformed, misleading post onto social media which captures that attention of the masses. The truth about Shkreli is being deliberately hidden from you and needs to be told. So we present the true story behind “The world’s most hated man” and give you the other side of the argument that the media dare not reveal.
Every morning Shkreli walks past the Pfizer headquarters on his way to work. His apartment is just a stones throw away from the hub of operations of one of the worlds biggest Pharmaceutical companies that he says in his typically controversial style is, “Full of shit” and “Hypocritical”
It’s hard not to understand why Shkreli appears frustrated by the selective outrage being directed at him, especially when Daraprim represents just 0.01 percent of healthcare costs in the US and just weeks ago, Pfizer raised the price of over one hundred of their own drugs quietly whilst cutting billions of dollars into research and development every year, in stark contrast to Shkreli who openly admits this is where most of his profits are re-invested.
The fact is, it is only a very small market that will end up paying for Shkreli drugs at a premium, in-fact Shkreli admits to giving away up to 70% of his drugs for free. Turing recently announced discounts of Daraprim for hospitals, and Shkreli says that for people without insurance it will cost only $1 a pill. For everyone else, insurance companies etc, which he argues is paid for by corporate America’s profits, they will cover the cost.
With this in mind — Why are people getting so worked up about a man who wants to charge huge corporate bodies making vast profits each year a premium?
Why are we not defending him for taking a stand against the very corporations who have been ripping everyone off for so many years?
Why would he sell a drug to a company who will only increase the price themselves and profit of the back of it when that money could go back into research?
Shkreli admits to being a modern day “Robin Hood”, and is unapologetic when it comes to defending his decision to charge corporate bodies full price for his drugs;
“Fuck them, If I take their money and use it for research on dying kids, I think i’m a hero, let alone evil”
Many will argue that by charging insurance companies a premium for the drugs, the cost will only end up increasing premiums for all insurance holders over the long run.
The facts are that drugs costs in an industry that is worth over $500 billion only represent a very small portion of the overall bill and even the most popular drugs cannot influence the cost of healthcare premiums. 80% of insurance payouts are for Doctors, Physicians and Hospital fees.
The drugs manufacturers clearly take the brunt of the blame of rising healthcare costs and they are almost facing with a no-win situation. Either give the drugs away for free and go bankrupt, or charge money for them. Shkreli is certainly not the first person to increase the price of drugs and will not be the last — he is not a charity after-all and is ultimately doing nothing illegal.
I understand that we are talking about a product which can prolong or save peoples lives in some cases and companies that produce these products do have a moral responsibility — but in the grand scheme of things, this has been blown way out of all proportion. The reality is, this price rise is ultimately irrelevant and will not affect anyone who actually needs the drugs.
I understand that Shkreli has made himself an easy target with his flamboyant personality and online outbursts — but he is really such a small fish in a very big dirty pond— The reality is that the biggest “criminals” are the hospitals and doctors who charge extortionate amounts of money for their services in an industry where the victims pay a much higher price.
Where is the outrage for a childbirth bill of $42,000? Or a $55,000 bill for an appendicitis operation? These ludicrous bills are happening across the US on a daily basis and yet nobody questions it. Why?
I happen to like Shkreli despite his admittedly punchable face. The irony is that he has brought much needed attention onto an industry that has been rampantly corrupt for decades and it is about time questions were asked of those who have been taking advantage of the system unchallenged for so many years.