Hot Topic #11: Big Pharma – A Look Into Martin Shkreli, The Gobs Of Money, And More

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.

Earlier this week, the Internet basically blew up because of this guy:

Image Credit: NBC News via Paul Taggart / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Image Credit: NBC News via Paul Taggart / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The media was all over it. Outrage was almost instantaneous. Martin Shkreli has been called almost every name in the book: “Public Enemy No. 1,” “the most hated man in America,” “a spoiled brat” by none other than Donald Trump, and more. The Daily Beast blatantly called him an asshole in their main headline, which was my exact impression of this shitty scumbag and fucking bottom feeder when the news first broke.

Shkreli’s decision to raise the price of Daraprim, used to treat an infection caused by a parasite, from a sensible $13.50 per pill to over $750 per dose, was jaw-dropping, among other things.

He soon back-pedaled, but the damage was already done:

It’s bad enough when your one decision sparks worldwide outrage, but I think it’s worse when your supposed colleagues in your own industry and supporting industries turn their backs on you. However, this piece of shitty scum totally deserves it. I’m applauding those in the bio tech industry and PhRMA for standing up and saying, “Whoa, hang on a second, this is not acceptable.” Read more from The Washington Post.

With that said, however, my applause is limited and short-lived. These industries are fucking money hoarders!

In The Daily Beast article, a reporter confronted Shkreli about the low cost of producing Daraprim – Roughly one dollar per pill.

Shkreli’s response to her?

” … Shkreli claimed that the price hike was necessary for Turing Pharmaceuticals to increase revenue, and that some of the profits would be funneled into research and development costs for a Daraprim alternative …”



However, as The Washington Post article said, Shkreli is certainly not the first drug company executive, or drug company, to drastically raise prices.

Shkreli’s been in the news before – When he was the CEO of Retrophin, the company acquired Thiola, a drug used to treat an incurable kidney disease, with plans to raise its price over 20 times. The Retrophin board fired Shkreli and sued him for $65 million, accusing him of misusing company funds.

Here’s a few examples of those costs:

And, as I learned from researching for this post, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) apparently can’t do a damn thing about drug prices. They have no “legal authority to investigate or control the prices charged for marketed drugs,” according to a response on the FDA’s frequently asked questions section of their website.

Reading that statement basically knocked me over, initially.

According to an article from The Atlantic, Americans were reminded this week that the U.S. is the only fucking country in the FUCKING WORLD “where drug companies set their own prices for life-saving medications.”

Cue eye roll, heavy sigh, and head-shaking.

But, wait, hold on to your hats folks, there’s actually SOME GOOD NEWS!

Before this, and now even more so because of the spotlight on and scrutiny of Shkreli, people are actually paying attention, and giving a fuck!

All right, so maybe that first set of sentences were slightly sarcastic …

For me, I’ll believe all of this when I see it.

Meaning, I’ll believe it when Congress takes action.

Right now, the only thing that all of this proves to me is Big Pharma is king, and no one can reach his throne to take away his crown.

As someone who has typically chosen Democrat in the nine years that I have been able to vote, I’m genuinely intrigued at how Hillary and Bernie Sanders have responded to this debacle. However, I’m not entirely convinced. We are preparing for an election, after all.

There’s also the topic of generic drugs versus the brand names. I have personally struggled with this battle. I am fortunate to have a great work-sponsored health insurance plan and pharmacy coverage. However, my pharmacy coverage is extremely limited – It covers mainly generic drugs and prescriptions; almost nothing brand-name is listed in their database.

I struggle with this because the best birth control formula that I have found that works for me and my body does not have a generic form, at least not yet. At one point, I was paying nearly $100 per month for this particular formula. It finally got to the point where I couldn’t afford it, and I was forced to switch to a generic to save that money. Although switching to the generic reduced the cost from $100 to FREE because of my coverage, it was a sacrifice because it was a different formula, and my body reacted adversely, along with my emotional state every month. After struggling for a year or so, I asked my doctor for help. I’m so grateful for her – We have a plan in place for now and for the near future as I prepare for marriage and starting a family eventually, until the makers of the best formula release a generic version of their product, and hopefully that future generic version is covered under my insurance.

My predicament is most certainly small potatoes to those who deal with chronic and life-threatening conditions on a daily basis – Diabetes, cancer, mental illness, and more – and I definitely don’t want to minimize those struggles in any way. However, I wanted to share that small story of mine to help illustrate a point – I have dealt with Big Pharma and their drugs and their exorbitant costs, and almost everyone I know have dealt with it all, some much more often than others.

I could go on and on and on, but I think this is enough, for now.

I’ll leave you with John Oliver’s take on this – A double dose (no pun intended).

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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