It looks like Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli could be in serious trouble for his 5500 percent price hike on Daraprim, a 60-year old drug that, by his own admission, doesn’t work very well and has terrible side effects. Shkreli, a hedge fund manager, likely saw dollar signs in this and nothing else, and now the Senate is calling him on the carpet for his price gouging maneuver. Oh. Noes.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McKaskill (D-MO) sent Pharma Bro a letter asking him to appear before a special committee looking into price gouging on the part of his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals. Pharma Bro hiked the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to over $750, claiming that it was the “responsible” thing to do since Daraprim was a “loser” of a drug. The Raw Story reports that McKaskill said:
Some of the recent actions we’ve seen in the pharmaceutical industry—with corporate acquisitions followed by dramatic increases in the prices of pre-existing drugs—have looked like little more than price gouging.
It is, and nothing more. Our dear Pharma Bro may have had any number of strategies in mind when he did this, but keep in mind that we’re dealing with a hedge fund manager here. These are people who get very rich very quickly using all manner of shady techniques on the stock market. His aim wasn’t to raise money for research into new drugs, whatever he says. His aim was to turn a quick profit, either from the sale of the drug itself or through the waves such a move would create at Turing’s share prices.
The latter scenario is the more likely one.
The House has been trying to open its own investigation, but of course, the House Committee on Government and Oversight can’t get one because Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) keeps blocking them, according to the Washington Post. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has urged Congress to investigate Valeant Pharmaceuticals for months before federal investigators started looking into them. He also sent letters demanding documents from both Valeant and Turing to Chaffetz, but those requests have been denied.
Pharma Bro has tried to justify the price hike by saying that it’s not really a lot of money (yes, he really did say that $750 for one pill is not that much money) and that the profits made from turning cheap drugs into expensive drugs go back into research. He (and others like him) get rich while people suffer because they can’t afford a drug and their insurance won’t pay for it.
But hey, it’s for research, so that totally makes all the suffering okay.
He’ll probably try to justify it that way to the Senate, too. Hopefully, the Senate will run him into the ground with this, and, if they find enough evidence to do so, hit him where it’s really going to hurt with punitive measures. People like Pharma Bro should not be able to enrich themselves off the suffering of others.
Featured image via screen capture