Unfortunately, infamous drug CEO Martin Shkreli is just the tip of the iceberg in a world in which dozens of other pharma bosses hike drug prices to mind-numbing new levels without the public even noticing it.
Shkreli, on the other hand, made the mistake of being far too vocal after raising the price of Daraprim, a life-saving drug for patients with a weak immune system such as pregnant women, the elderly, and HIV patients, by about 5,000 percent last fall.
On Thursday, Shkreli was summoned before Congress to testify on the unusual price hike. But the ‘Pharma Bro’ adopted a defying stance, grinning, smirking, and even yawning to Congressmen’s questions. Plus, he invoked the Fifth Amendment like a mantra for every uncomfortable question he had to answer to. Later, he said that he was only following his lawyer’s advice.
Law experts however know that, even if Shkreli goes behind bars in the wake of the federal investigation on securities fraud he allegedly committed as manager of a hedge fund, the price of Daraprim won’t budge.
Plus, the COO of Shkreli’s Turing Pharma, Nancy Retzlaff, admitted before lawmakers Thursday that the company has spent tens of thousands of dollars on a lavish party pretentiously dubbed a ‘sales force meeting.’
Retzlaff coolly defended her company and boss, who was sitting by her side during the Congress hearing. Nevertheless, she admitted that Turing recently spent big money on salary rises and the $23,000 yacht party. Eight hundred dollars were burned on a cigar roller and thousands more on a firework show during the party… ahem… business meeting.
On a moral scale, Retzlaf is as mischievous as her boss, but you don’t see her making the headlines and stirring an entire nation’s outrage. Yet, she is not a singular case. Other people who are pulling the strings in the pharma industry and hike drug prices overnight are flying under the radar.
For instance, two years ago when Shkreli was the chief executive of Retrophin decided to hike the price of Thiola, a drug patients with a rare kidney disease can’t do without, from $1.50 to $30 immediately after buying the rights for the drug. Shortly after, Shkreli was ousted from his position but Stephen J. Aselage, the man who succeeded him, left the price unchanged.
Additionally, a recent analysis showed that drug prices were quadrupled in 20 cases and doubled in 60 cases since late 2014. Nearly 3,000 prescription drugs saw their prices go up over the same period, with increases of over 500 percent in common drugs that are used to treat diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Image Source: RT