Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in jail for fraud
Though his jail sentence is welcome news for many, it is not for the reasons many wished
He gained notoriety when he dramatically rose the price of an HIV/AIDS medication
He is not the only one engaging in such predatory price hikes
Martin Shkreli, the infamous, price gouging hedge fund executive, is going to prison. He was convicted on March 9 of securities fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison, which was welcome news for much of the world who dubbed him ‘Pharma Bro’ and ‘the most hated man in America.’
However, the irony was not missed by many that Shkreli would be going to prison for defrauding rich shareholders rather than swindling working and middle class people dependent on medicines that he decided needed to be more expensive so he could make more money. That part was perfectly legal, even defensible by some economists.
Shkreli’s real crime, many said, was that he was an inhumane opportunist, more prepared to get rich than make life-saving medicine as accessible as possible.
But Shkreli is not the only one who has dramatically increased the price of much-needed medicine.
In fact, compared to others who have done the same, Shkreli’s price gouging looks middle of the road.
Here are three other executives who have upped the price of critical medicine, or who have endangered the public by selling them products based off conspiratorial narratives.
Heather Bresch (Wikipedia)
Bresch is the CEO of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company that owns the patent to the the EpiPen, an epinephrine injector that provides immediate life saving medicine in the event of a severe allergic reaction. The EpiPen is carried by many everywhere they go, as it is necessary to have at all times. Mylan is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. and Bresch herself was listed one of Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women” in 2015.
Bresch is also responsible for raising the price of the EpiPen from $103 in 2009 to more than $600 in 2016. By raising the price over 600%, Bresch effectively priced many out of their own lives, forcing them to buy other types of epinephrine injectors. Bresch, meanwhile, reportedly saw her pay raise about 671% during that same timeframe.
Bresch is the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. In 2007, Bresch falsely claimed she had an MBA from West Virginia University. In response, the university created false transcripts for her to make it seem like she did indeed complete her studies to receive an MBA. The resulting scandal forced several top administrators from the university to resign.
Robert DiCrisci (Twitter)
DiCrisci is the CEO of NextSource, a pharmaceuticals company. NextSource bought the rights to a brain cancer drug called lomustine. They then decided in Dec. 2017, that the drug, which costed a maximum of $50 at the time, was simply too cheap. So they rose it to $768 per pill—a 15-fold increase.
Unlike the EpiPen, there is no generic alternative to lomustine, meaning those who need the drug have no choice but to pay as much as NextSource asks for.
When reached for comment on the massive price increases, DiCrisci told The Wall Street Journal that he based his prices development costs, regulatory fees and the benefit the drug provides to patients.
DiCrisci was also quick to add that NextSource apparently provides discounts to poorer customers.
In Jan. 2018, it came out that DiCrisci is being sued for a litany of abuses and allegations of misconduct. Most notably, DiCrisci was awarding a massive salary to one of his assistants in exchange for “sexual favors.”
According to the Miami New Times, DiCrisci was also accused of “sending at least one other female member of his staff ‘grossly inappropriate text message’ bragging about his sexual exploits, and subjecting another female employee to ‘blatant, inappropriate sexual advances and other harassment.’”
Not to outdo himself, DiCrisci was also accused of charging $15,000 trips to strip clubs on a company credit card.
Doug Evans (Juicero)
Doug Evans is not responsible for starkly increasing the price of much-needed medicine. Rather, he is responsible for dangerously misleading the public by peddling an alternative to processed and filtered water based in a kind of pseudo-spiritualism and conspiratorial skepticism of health facts.
Evans is the man behind the ‘raw water’ movement that trended throughout the United States. He was also the founder of Juicero, the $700 juicing machine that squeezed proprietary liquid from a proprietary packet and could only work if connected to WiFI. When it was revealed customers could just squeeze the juice packets with their bare hands rather than putting them in the machine, the company went under and Evans briefly disappeared before being spotted promoting his newest Silicon Valley craze, ‘raw water.’
After drinking raw water with a fire dancer named Vatra Amidzich at psychedelic Burning Man festival, Evans became convinced that this is what the world needed. He immediately started a company to sell raw water to the masses, for premium prices.
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Raw water is water taken directly from springs without filtering it or processing it using any method. This can leave in bacteria that causes dysentery among other fatal diseases, and is universally considered to be an incredibly dangerous idea within the scientific community.
But Evans thinks it’s genius.
According to his company’s website, “Live Spring Water is fresh and unprocessed. All other commercially available filtered, and even bottled spring waters are sterilized with ozone gas and irradiated with UV light. Processing water is done for shelf stability and cheaper transport, but it destroys healthy microbes in the process. Our water still has all the healthy minerals and probiotics fully unobstructed.”
For this sewage water, Evans was initially charging about $30 but has since doubled his asking price to around $60.
Martin Shkreli may be the public face of a pharmaceutical practice of steep price hikes and endangering the public, but he is certainly not the only practitioner. It is common, and nominally illegal to price gouge, but such regulations are rarely enforced.
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