Martin Shkreli: I Support You.
There. I said it.
I said what some think — even a few of those people being in the pharmaceutical industry or at least making money in it. I said what others in the business community may be thinking. And I said what you probably will want to rip me apart for saying or at the least now question my real HIV activism now. It still doesn’t change how I feel after watching this unfold and participating in the conversation.
The fact is, I believe the Internet got it very wrong collectively, by hating Martin Shkreli, the Internet’s Most Hated Man.
Or at the least, the impetus for people to learn about his money-making desires wasn’t fair in my opinion.
And I think big organizations and patient advocacy groups got it wrong by sending him long letters regarding the price of Daraprim — citing patient access as the main cause and that reason being repeated by many pundits as the leading basis of their argument and justification to him being called “greedy”.
There are no patient access issues regarding this medicine — are there? Where are the stories were patients couldn’t afford the medication AND they weren’t helped? [I have yet to see any real patient story of not being able to get the drug if they need it, and I have seen instances where Turing or Shkreli actually went above and beyond their duty to provide assistance.] It appears that they did cut the price in half for some hospitals.
So, who made that story angle up? It was certainly reported by more than a few media organizations.
Those online that took cheap shots at Shkreli did so with an amazingly easy compromise of their ethics…in the name of sticking up for the patients that might need this drug to stay alive. Patients like me, HIV-positive, except patients that also developed toxoplasmosis. And people online were heard. Activists on the ground were seen. And the story was juicy. Everyone ate it up and ate him alive. He made it easy at times.
I even momentarily jumped on the bandwagon of hate and bullying. I’m embarrassed now. But for me, much of my clarity of the facts and overcoming the media headlines and hype came from a one-hour interview that is on my HIV blog with Martin Shkreli.
But now, as we sit and reflect on the good work we think we did, the price is still expensive. The patients that need the medicine are still receiving it and according to Turing Pharmaceuticals have never paid more than $10-$20/bottle. Shkreli is still the CEO, and so everyone wins?
But, wait a minute.
Over the past several months, we all have seen the headlines against “pharmabro”
We have witnessed politicians come out and attack him, using the moment to rally their fan base against a villain. I ask, why? What did we accomplish?
Did we win?
Here are the facts. You may not like Shkreli because he’s a jerk at times. He admits and acknowledges that. But we all know jerks. They are not scum though. You may not like the entire point of how private businesses operate — to make a profit. But we all want to make money. And you point to reports of Shkreli being sued by past companies as proof in and of itself that he deserves public crucifixion. But I argue that those are all still pending and as a victim of unfair legal battles myself in the past — just because one has to defend oneself, it is no proof anything wrong ever happened.
Turing spent $55 million to purchase the rights to a drug that has been around for some 60+ years. During that time, the drug hasn’t really ever improved. At the original price, Turing would have never seen a profit, or at least never been able to decide to increase research and development. If they could not make a return on their investment, they would not invest.
I ask myself, if I am diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, would I want a cheap 60-year old medicine that wasn’t being actively researched and improved, or would I chose a drug that was being invested in and improved, even if my insurance company forked over thousands for it? Regardless, I would still never pay more than $10-$30/bottle out of pocket. I would choose the best drug available.
I support Martin Shkreli.
I could careless if he lowers the price. I actually support raising the price as high as it can sustain while continuing the research and development of Daraprim, in the case that I am diagnosed with this disease. Or if you are.
If drug prices bother us — why are we not asking the company that made $55 million from selling Turing the rights to give them most of the money back? Making a return as a private business would happen a lot sooner if they only spent $1 million to acquire the drug.
Martin Shkreli has a big legal responsibility: to make decisions that benefit his shareholders — mainly regarding their possibility to make a return. He’s doing that.
Daraprim is a niche medicine that most will never need in our lives. But, if we do, it will be available to us because Turing Pharmaceuticals invested in it.
I think the medical industry deserves to make a profit. Pharma deserves to makes money. You and I deserve to make money if we work for it too. It’s how business works.
His family foundation, The Shkreli Foundation, has donated more than $3 million dollars to charity.
Nobody likes to admit that they were mistaken — but the majority of us on social media should apologize. Intentions may have been clear, but execution of it all is embarrassing. Seriously, we all saw the comments saying he deserves death or to be shot or that he was basically shit.
I support him. And if I had money to invest, he would be the first person I would call. Why? Making money is okay — and can someone show me all these patients he hurt? Hurting our egos doesn’t count.