Health Care in America: Profit-Driven For Somebody, Invariably A Consummate Douchebag

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Meet Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager turned pharmaceutical kingpin who's in the news this week for buying a 60-year-old drug that treats life-threatening parasitic infections in AIDS and cancer patients, and overnight hiking its price from $13.50 a pill to $750 - an increase of 5,455 % - thus proving once and for all why health care should not be a for-profit business. The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli reportedly spent $55 million to buy the rights to Daraprim, commonly used to treat 
toxoplasmosis, an opportunistic parasitic infection that strikes people with compromised immune systems. The drug, which sold for slightly over $1 a tablet a few years ago, has been passed from one pharmaceutical company to the other in recent years.

Shkreli's brutal price hike raised some eyebrows even in the ordinarily brutal world of pharmaceuticals. Calling it "even skeevier" than it looks, one bio-tech executive called Shkreli "the Donald Trump of drug development...a hedge fund manager who gives hedge fund managers a bad name.” Shkreli has been here before: After starting a hedge fund in his 20s, he was accused of urging the FDA to not approve drugs made by companies whose stock he was shorting; in 2011, he helped form Retrophin, which also bought old drugs and raised their prices; last year, he was fired by Retrophin's board as a “faithless servant” and is now being sued for $65 million for allegedly using company funds to pay back angry investors he ripped off.

All water off the back of a clueless narcissist whose gloating, sneering social media accounts boast put-downs of his enemies, photos of $9,000 bottles of wine from dinner, and proclamations that he won't be doing any more interviews because "I have a busy and important job." Despite the blowback to his latest travesty, Shkreli insists in a stomach-turning interview that, "It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this.” He argues the drug was formerly unprofitable, it's still "under-priced," it will now fetch a "reasonable profit," and because he's such a good guy he will use the money it earns at $750 a pop to develop better treatments. “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients," he says. "It is us trying to stay in business."

Doctors are calling Shkreli on his BS, insisting the insane price hike will doubtless hurt many suffering from a disease that in any case hasn't been "clamoring for better therapies.” The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association have sent a joint letter calling the price increase for Daraprim “unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population” and “unsustainable for the health care system.” Meanwhile, regular folks, both ill and well, have decided "Martin Shkreli deserves a special place in hell."  He is "a greedy creep in a suit...a vermin...a sociopath...a turd with feet." "Like, holy shit. I want him invited to every AIDS related funeral." "This guy is pure evil. A living piece of human garbage. (He) deserves to die of a rare disease that has a cure, but the medicine is too expensive for him to purchase. He deserves to beg and plead for the cure he can't afford, and to be ignored as his life slowly slips away.""This little punk (with his) heinous level of greed rarely seen in such open display (has) destroyed much and hurt many." And from a petition, "Take this guy down." We'd add, along with the putrid system that gave rise to him.

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