Karma strikes the CEO who hiked up drug prices by 5000%

Ed Sykes

In October 2015, pharma CEO Martin Shkreli hit the headlines for the shockingly self-serving act of inflating the cost of a life-saving HIV drug. For that reason, very few people will be sad to hear he has been arrested on charges of fraud.

Having bought the rights to a much-needed HIV and cancer medication, Shkreli immediately jacked up the price from around $13 to $750 per pill (a rise of over 5000%). The argument was that he had increased the price of the life-saving but little-known drug Daraprim to cover investment costs. However, the CEO soon became “the most hated man on the internet” as a result of what many saw as a shameless act of wealth generation at the expense of some of society’s most vulnerable people.

According to US Uncut, Shkreli was arrested on the morning of Thursday 17 December for “securities fraud”. The arrest was related to his activities at drug company Retrophin, which he had been charged with using as:

his own private checking account by illegally siphoning off stocks and assets from the company to pay off personal debts from his other business dealings

Retrophin’s current directors claim they had replaced Shkreli as CEO over a year before “because of serious concerns about his conduct”, authorising an independent investigation into his conduct, publicly disclosing its findings, and fully cooperating with government investigations.

This is not to demonise people who work in the industry, however. He insists:

it is possible for good people in bad systems to do things that inflict enormous harm

But the ethical questions remain and, like with the parliamentary expenses scandal, it is clear that something has to change. The outrage generated by Shkreli’s actions could well prove to be a watershed point that leads to much greater public scrutiny into the actions of the pharmaceutical industry. But for that to happen, those hoping for reform in the system will have to capitalise on the popular discontent that the actions of people like Shkreli have generated.


Featured image via YouTube/Complex

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