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Surprise! "Pharma-bro" Martin Shkreli reneges on promise to return jacked-up $750 per pill price on Daraprim to original $13.50 level

He thought the Internet would've forgotten about him by now , but he's filed next to "2 Girls 1 Cup" in its memory


Scott Eric Kaufman
November 26, 2015 12:07AM (UTC)

Promises made in the age of social media need not be kept, many think, as attention spans tighten while the world awaits its next objet d'indignation -- which is another way of saying that no matter how horrible you've behaved, it's not necessarily unreasonable to believe that in two months the world's forgotten about you and your promise, so there's no pressing need to keep it.

That's generally true, so long as your horribleness doesn't reach the majestic heights of Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, who increased the price of an anti-parasitic drug by 5,455 percent and claimed it was "still under-priced" before saying that his "altruistic" motive behind founding Turing was "to create a big drug company." That bypasses the Internet's short-term outrage circuit and gets filed away next to "2 Girls 1 Cup," "Goatse," and other unforgivable acts against humanity.

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So when Shkreli's company announced on Tuesday that he had decided against rolling the price of Daraprim -- a drug used primarily to treat parasitic infections in pregnant women and HIV patients -- back from $750 to $13.50 per pill, it wasn't going to go unnoticed.

"We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access," said Nancy Retzlaff, a representative of a company whose track-record with pledges she was sullying with every word she spoke. She noted that "drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry" and that "a drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access," words which are meant to assuage fears that in the future, the company will continue to behave as it has in the past and does in the present.

Which isn't the least bit reassuring, especially when shares of KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. -- which Shkreli and his partners purchased earlier this month and, only a week ago, whose share price was hovering near zero -- are at $18, because as Bloomberg's Max Nesin argued, investors are betting that Shkreli will return to "his previous m.o. of acquiring older drugs and raising prices," even though "such a path would attract [more attention and] could make it more difficult to follow."
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Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Attention Span Daraprim Martin Shkreli Medical Ethics The Internet Turing Pharmaceuticals Video

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