Creepy Pharma Bro Just Got Owned
Oh sweet justice: Martin Shkreli, the loathsome poster boy for big pharmaceutical company greed after he upped the price of an infection-fighting drug vital to HIV and cancer patients from $13.50 a pill to $750 (a hike of 5,550%) because (he thought) he could, just got his avaricious head handed to him - along with a lesson in free market economics - by another small drug company CEO and actual human being, who will offer the same product for a buck.
Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, announced his price gouge shortly after his Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to Daraprim - a niche, low-profit drug known generically as pyrimethamine - which protects against toxoplasmosis in people whose immune systems have been compromised by HIV, pregnancy, or chemotherapy. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association estimated it would cost $336,000 a year to treat someone with toxoplasmosis at that price. After catching some serious P.R. flak for the move - ie: He was widely viewed as the worst person in America - Shkreli suggested he might lower the price, but hasn't.
Enter Mark Baum, CEO of the San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, who was struck by the disproportionate effect Shkreli's price hike would have on HIV patients; Baum had earlier created an HIV-focused pharmacy program, served on the board of a company that created a rapid HIV diagnostic test, and developed "a special affection for this patient population." While he dutifully issued a statement that "we respect Turing's right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate," he also says that "When this guy (Shkreli) did this, I (felt), ‘Someone’s got to stand up.’" Imprimis already offers massive discounts on drugs for those in need, like Medicaid recipients, sometimes for as low as $1 for an entire bottle. Now, along with developing a $1 a pill generic version of Pyrimethamine - which will not yet be FDA-approved but can still be legally sold through a doctor's prescription - Baum is also creating a new program, Imprimis Cares, "which is aligned to our corporate mission of making novel and customizable medicines available to physicians and patients today at accessible prices." He radically argues, "Drug companies should stay focused on the welfare of patients."
Ditto, says Bernie Sanders, who grudgingly entered the fray after Pharma Bro tried to donate $2,700, the legal limit, to Sanders' presidential campaign. When they learned whence it came, the campaign turned around and donated it to a clinic that does HIV treatment and research - an act that infuriated Shkreli, who is evidently unfamiliar with the concept of having a moral compass. He promptly began pettily and publicly attacking Sanders in interviews and on Twitter, blasting Sanders as a demogogue (though one with "some great ideas," threatening to "destroy" him in a debate on pharmaceuticals, and otherwise throwing blocks around his richly-furnished play room. For his trouble and tantrum, he's again being pummelled online - sample comments: "Nice try, ferret face" and "Call it trickle down, asshole" - but he doesn't yet seem to have learned to keep his foul mouth closed. Dude. Listen up: At least this once, you lose, just like you deserve to, and humanity wins.