Martin Shkreli is becoming a household name for buying out biotechnology corporations and their patents before hiking up the prices of their drugs to super-villain levels. In September, he first made headlines when he purchased the rights to a drug and raised its price from $13.50 a pill to $750. That’s 5000%, just to be clear.
Since then, Shkreli spent two million dollars on a 1/1 Wu Tang album (proving that even the black-hearted can’t deny RZA’s beats) and swiftly moved to buy up the shares of KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, which produces benznidazole, a treatment for Chagas disease in South and Central America. There, where the disease is most common, the two month treatment for Chagas costs between $50 and $100. If Chagas goes untreated, 30% of those afflicted can develop serious heart problems.
According to the New York Times, who spoke with Shkreli on a conference call (was he stroking a lizard in front of a giant fireplace?), this treatment would come State-side pending FDA approval and would likely cost in the range of $50-60,000 a treatment, on par with Hepatitis C. I can’t even do the math on that markup:
“It’s caused a lot of angst in the Chagas community,” said Dr. Sheba Meymandi, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of a Chagas treatment center at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. “Everyone’s in an uproar.”
Currently, over 300,000 people in the United States have Chagas, most if not all having it after traveling from Central and South America.
This is obviously a travesty, but the dark truth is that everything Shkreli is doing is legal. Immoral, but legal. Something clearly needs to change at the top if people like Shkreli are going to be stopped.