One of the biggest medical price hikes in history and the most expensive hip-hop album in the world have both recently been in the news. At the center of both stories is Martin Shkreli, who some have called the most hated man in America.
Martin Shkreli is the CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical. Shkreli’s company recently bought the exclusive license to make and sell a drug called Daraprim. Daraprim is a treatment for a rare parasite infection that can affect pregnant women and their unborn babies, as well as people with AIDS. A few years ago the price of one pill was about $1. In recent years, the price rose, but it was still affordable. Before Turing bought this drug in August, one pill cost $13.50. After Turing bought it, the price was raised to $750 a pill. This was an unheard of 5,500% price hike.
This story of off the charts greed naturally went viral on the internet. Medical associations sent letters of protest. It even brought together politicians from all sides of the US presidential race in their criticism of Shkreli’s business practices. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and even Donald Trump criticized this over the top money grab. After all the uproar, Shkreli initially agreed to drop the price, but later reneged on the promise.
Shkreli was recently asked if he could do it over, would he do anything different. His answer was “I would have raised prices higher.”
Shkreli plans to repeat the same business practice of buying exclusive licenses for rare diseases and hiking up the price. Currently, a 2-month treatment for Chagas costs $50 to $100 dollars. Shkreli is talking about raising the price to between $60,000 and $100,000.
And what does the most hated man in America have to do with the Wu Tang Clan, one of America’s most well-known hip hop groups? Well, apparently Shkreli is a fan. In another bit of odd news, the Wu Tang Clan recently created an album that you can’t buy in record stores or online. In fact, they only made one copy and they promised to never make another. They auctioned it off to the highest bidder this past November. The winner? Martin Shkreli. And he paid 2 million dollars.
No one knows if this story of greed can possibly have a happy ending, but there is some justice on the horizon. Shkreli was just arrested for financial fraud involving millions of dollars that happened when he was the CEO of another company. While he may end up doing some time for financial fraud, sadly, his 5,500% money grab is still 100% legal.