Who’s the bad guy? Who’s the good guy? As I dive deeper into the rabbit hole that is the pharmaceutical world I become more and more confused as to which party is playing which. Take Martin Shkreli for example, the ex-CEO of Retrophin. Martin has recently started a new company, Turring Pharmaceuticals, in which he plans to develop new drugs such as VECAMYL®. New goals aside, many know Martin from his most recent public scandal in which he was accused of price gouging an AID’s infection drug his company sold. And while a 5000% increase in the drug is obvious to signal alarm, Martin stood by his decision, but why? And why so confidently?
Martin’s angle was this- “if you can’t afford the drug, we’ll sell it to you for a dollar”. This may sound perfect, but those that can afford the drug are forced to pay a much higher price, and they don’t have a choice either. Not only does Martin have the benefit of using the giving-card to ward off the price-gouging accusations, but he also only goes after diseases that do not have any competition in regards to pharmaceutical development for two reasons.
The first is that Martin’s company can charge whatever price he wants for the patients in need since there is no alternative, simple as that. If you have a rare disease that only 5,000 people a year get, you may be out of luck, or really out-of-pocket. The second reason of Martin’s profit-perfecting formula is targeting only rare diseases to cure, or going after more common ones with a completely different approach, such as using the street drug Ketamine to combat depression. Going after these rare diseases means that the volume of people ordering his drugs won’t affect the system as a whole by raising insurance premiums. So essentially, Martin can price-gouge, but everyone else can’t due to the repercussions.
It’s a perfect formula, and one he can defend. Does this make it right? Absolutely not. But Martin is smart, he at least deserves that much credit.
Be sure to watch his most recent Bloomberg interview where Martin gives himself away in a sort-of odd fashion. Shkreli states, “I want to make people know I’m not a one-trick pony. Raising drug prices is certainly a great way to make returns for your investor. But an even better way to make returns for your investors is developing novel drugs for very sick patients that don’t have any other choices.”
So there you have it, Martin profits off of uncured/untreated diseases while getting to (in his own delusional world) play the hero role by offering a drug for 1$ to some.
Be sure to watch Blab late at night (est. time usually from 10:00 pm-1:00 am) for a chance to see the man himself answer select questions in which he can easily justify. I have yet to understand why Martin has been recently on Blab, but perhaps he’s run out of true-friends and is seeking some sort of validation through questionnaires and ass-kissing from those brave enough to show their faces on camera next to him.