Martin Shkreli and what he did right


The Appalachian Online


It would seem that Martin Shkreli’s time in the limelight has yet to fade.

Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, became famous last year when he raised the price of Daraprim, a life-saving HIV drug, by over 5,000 percent.

Shkreli appeared before Congress last week to testify about the price gouging.

During this time, it would seem that he went out of his way to anger every member of the congressional committee.

Shkreli responded to every question by citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

With childlike tweets and his responses to his critics, Shkreli has certainly earned the moniker of most hated man in America.

After leaving the congressional meeting, Shkreli took to Twitter to talk about how “hard to accept” it was that that that these “imbeciles represent the people in our government.”

However, his continued antics make the news media focus on him, and most news organizations can’t resist mentioning the Daraprim price hike.

He is hailed by many as the “bad boy” of big pharma for his outspoken reaction to the backlash against the Daraprim price hike.

This price hike, which raised the price of the drug from $13.50 to $750, occurred back in October as a means for Shrkeli to raise money for Turing.

This price hike, and Shkreli’s actions after the fact, have done a good job of drawing attention to the predatory actions of big pharmaceutical companies.

Specifically, the practice involved a company buying a generic drug, rebranding it and then selling it at a massively inflated price.

Unfortunately, this is a far too common practice and one that many people might not be aware of.

A not-so-prominent example of this is the drug albendazole, which was bought by the company Amedra, and had its prices raised to over $150 a pill.

Other recent examples of this phenomenon are the drugs doxycycline hyclate, glycopyrrolate and pravastatin sodium, according to the AARP.

Doxycycline hyclate, a widely used antibiotic, went from $20 for 500 capsules to $1,849 for the same amount. Glycopyrrolate went from $65 for 10 doses to $1,277, and pravastatin sodium went from $27 for a one year supply to $196.

While this practice isn’t new by any means, very few people have noticed it in the past. Shkreli has brought national attention to the topic.

In fact, it could be said that Shkreli, in his own twisted way, did a good thing.

This was not intentional, however. Shkreli had written to someone outside of his company concerning the price gouging, stating that “almost all of it is profit,” according to the Washington Post.

At the very least, this attention has laid the pressure on any big pharma companies that may decide to do anything similar to Turing in the future.

In the best case scenario, the attention will call for more and more cries from people to have the government, specifically the FDA, regulate drug prices and prevent this practice from occurring again.

Many abuses of the pharmaceutical industry go unnoticed. Shkreli puts an obnoxious public face on the issue, which helps focus attention on the issue and may lead to real change.

So in the end, Shkreli may have inadvertently helped out millions of people across America.

Russell, a freshman communication major from Charlotte, is an opinion writer.