Sometimes, there truly is karma in this world—that is, the idea that a person’s previous actions can decide his future fate. Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company owned by Martin Shkreli – who was dubbed the “pharma bro” after the despised CEO unapologetically raised the price of the company’s generic AIDS drug 5,000 percent overnight in September – reported a $14.6 million loss for the third-quarter ended September 2015, and a $27.7 million loss for the nine month period.
You will recall that Shkreli became the most-hated man in America back in September when he raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients to fight the parasite Toxoplasma gondii – from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet. Shkreli has been deservedly skewered and received an incredible public beating on social media and from our Democratic presidential candidates for his unapologetic and arrogant answers to his critics. Some of the tamer comments referred to him as a “morally bankrupt sociopath”, a “scumbag” a “garbage monster,” “everything that is wrong with capitalism,” and ‘the personification of evil.”
“The price rise was so outrageous that it would have been cheaper for an American patient to fly out to India and buy a year’s supply of the medication than fork out the full retail price for a single Daraprim tablet in the US.” However, as pressure mounted, Shkreli initially agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to an “affordable level,” whatever that meant. Now Turing claims to understand that toxoplasmosis patients are primarily concerned with timely access and minimal out-of-pocket costs.
“We are committed to continuing the expansion of our distribution partnerships in order to facilitate optimal patient access. In addition to participation in federal and state programs with costs as low as 1 penny per pill, and patient savings programs under which patients’ out-of-pocket expenses do not exceed $10 per prescription…In order to better address the needs of physicians and patients, Turing will be introducing a 30-count bottle to address the needs of hospitals as well as a sample package to ensure physicians have timely and affordable access to therapy in emergency situations.”
Defending the losses as new drug developmental costs, Turing said, “the company also stressed that most of their money has been going into investment, expecting to spend 60 percent of their revenue on development and research towards their drugs…Part of this development will be an intranasal formulation of ketamine to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.”
Turing is a privately-held company controlled by Shkreli, 32, a former hedge fund manager, who appears to have responded to “the anger felt by people” over his manipulation of the potentially life-saving drug. While there is really no way to tell if Shkreli actually feels remorse for his morally bankrupt decision – maybe he hears the footsteps of companies like Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, which announced its intention to produce a tablet at a fraction of the price. Losing money, no matter what the reason, for a man like Schkreli, is the kind of karma he probably could never have imagined.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.