Martin Shkreli is an American hedge fund manager and entrepreneur, specializing in healthcare businesses. He is a co-founder of MSMB Capital Management and the founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG.
He was born on April Fool’s Day, and now at the age of 32, he has been playing the American consumer as the biggest fool of all. Simply put, Shkreli, and people like him, are the root of evil when it comes to prescription drugs.
Case in point: Shkreli’s company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, increased the price of a drug that treats infections from $13.50 to $750 for a single tablet – that’s an increase of $736.50 per pill.
What was the reasoning behind such a large increase? Surely it must have been because certain ingredients became more costly, or legal issues ran up the costs of the pill.
If only that were true.
Shkreli increased the pill by 4,000 percent simply because he could. He didn’t care what such a large price increase would mean for people in Lima, Ottawa or Middle Point. He was hoping their insurance companies would fill his pockets with cash. When he became Public Enemy No. 1 across the Internet, Shkreli eventually said he would lower the price, his initial defiant response only turned up the heat.
Hopefully, some good will come out of this.
Behind the Shkreli story lurks a real lesson about the way drugs are priced in the United States and what role they actually play in the trillion-dollar fight over controlling health-care costs. It’s quickly becoming a campaign issue, one that resonates with voters.
The AARP Public Policy Institute published a study last year finding that the retail prices of more than 200 brand name prescription drugs increased by 12.9 percent, faster than in years past. Even the area of industry that has been responsible for huge cost savings, generic drugs, have had some drug prices soar.
The issue of prescription drug prices needs to stay front and center as America wrestles with the rising cost of health care.