Just Look At This Asshole: Hedge Fund Douchebro Buys AIDS Drug Patent, Raises Price From $13.30 To $750

I have been vehemently opposed to the death penalty all my life. I hate violence, I hate guns — anything like that. And yet, the moment I gazed upon the smirking face of Martin Shkreli, underneath a headline reading “Ex-hedge funder buys rights to AIDS drug and raises price from $13.50 to $750 per pill” — I immediately thought to myself, Well, Robyn. Maybe you’ve been wrong all these years. Maybe some people do need killin’.

Now, obviously (especially if the Feds are reading this), I am not literally suggesting that anyone fit Martin Shkreli with a pair of cement shoes. But what this ex-hedge funder is doing with his company Turing Pharmaceuticals is perhaps one of the most evil things I have ever heard of in my life and the fact that he even exists is filling me with a rage I am not sure I previously thought I was capable of. I am having trouble wrapping my head around how anyone can be so malicious. I think Snidely Whiplash may have had more redeeming qualities than this dude.

You see, there is this really important and useful drug called Daraprim (Pyrimethamine), which Turing bought the patent for earlier this year. It’s used to treat toxoplasmosis, AIDS, malaria, and life-threatening parasitic-infections. It’s so important that it’s actually on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines for any basic health care systems.

A couple years ago, one tablet would have cost you a dollar. Yesterday, it would have cost you $13.50. Today, it would cost you $750 dollars.

Like many other pharmaceutical companies, Turing is buying up patents for neglected drugs and driving up the prices like crazy. They’re also making them more difficult to obtain, even for hospitals, by putting them under controlled distribution. The reason of that, as Shkreli explained, is because the patent for Daraprim, like many other older medications, has expired — and putting it on “controlled distribution” means that it’s more difficult for other companies to get their hands on in order to create a cheaper generic version.

Shkreli, whose OKCupid profile says he spends a lot of time thinking about “human suffering,” says that he’s not doing this simply to gouge customers, but to devote that money to research that will create a drug with fewer side-effects. However, doctors say that the side effects of Daraprim are manageable, and that the dangerous thing is that they will be forced to use less effective treatments now that Daraprim is so cost-prohibitive.

Whatever Shkreli believes his true motivations are for making a life-saving drug exorbitantly expensive, the actual outcome of the situation is really, really bad for pretty much everyone but him.

Alas, as much as I might despise him, the problem isn’t that Martin Shkreli is a horrifying douchebag. The problem is that we have a healthcare system and patenting system that allows Martin Shkreli to be a horrifying douchebag. 

Because guess how much Daraprim costs in Canada? GUESS! It costs about $1.73 a pill.

Pharmaceutical companies, you see, can completely gouge American customers, because our insurance companies just don’t have the same kind of collective bargaining power that countries with socialized healthcare have. We pay way, way more for medications than other countries do, because we don’t have the ability to regulate the prices of needed medications and require them to be affordable. Our laws allow Shkreli and those like him to switch the drug to “controlled distribution” which makes it harder for other companies to get hold of the drug and produce generics.

So I hope it’s worth it to all those people who so viciously oppose single payer healthcare. I really, honestly do. I hope that when they or their family members get sick, they look at that bill and beam with pride, knowing that only in America could they pay so much money for medical treatment. I actually do hope they look at it and think “Yes, this is expensive, and we’ll maybe lose our house because of it, but it’s all worth it! Because I wouldn’t want to live in a country where pharmaceutical companies weren’t free to gouge us! And I certainly couldn’t go on every day living in a country, knowing that poor people were getting free health care on my dime! Take my house, please, Martin Shkreli, et. al! You deserve it!

I hope they’re happy, because I hope at least someone besides Martin Shkreli is.

[New York Times]