For the past few months, Martin Shkreli has continued to take the headlines by storm. Titled with “everything that is wrong with capitalism,” the 32 year old American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, and founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG has been criticized for raising the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim by 5000% from $13.50 to $750.00 per pill.
Daraprim, a produced developed in the 1950s was a drug used to treat those with relatively rare parasitic infections called toxoplasmosis. People with weakened immune systems, such as Aids patients, have come to rely on the drug, which up until September 2015 use to cost $13.50 a dose.
To combat the online ridicule and numerous death threats, Martin Shkreli often used Twitter or new interviews as a way to combat the media bashing. While his efforts to explain the change as reasonable and valid, his overall attempts were nullified with immature comments and insults to the media, politicians, and public alike.
So who is Martin? What is his story?
When you think of a corporate monster, you usually assume that they were bred from the one percent culture of America. For Shkreli, that was not true. Martin was the son of Albanian and Croatian immigrants. He was born in the heart of New York and grew up in the working class community in Brooklyn. Having strong academic gifts, Martin was able to skip several grades throughout his life and eventually received a degree in business from New York’s Baruch College in 2004.
During college, Shkreli was able to gain an immense amount of experience with the corporate work as a college intern and then clerk for Jim Cramer’s Cramer, Berkowitz & Co. After four years at the firm, he joined UBS and Intrepid Capital management before starting his own hedge fund, Elea Capital Management in 2006. While the hedge fund was able to amass a large amount of profit, the fund closed a year later after a $2.3 million dollar lawsuit from Lehman Brothers.
From there Martin worked in various ventures before acquiring Turing Pharmaceuticals during 2014-2015 year. In September 2015, Shkreli was criticized by several health organizations for obtaining manufacturing licensing on an old out-of-patient life-saving medicine, Daraprim which is used to treat patients with toxoplasmosis, malaria, cancer, and AIDS. It was then were Shkreli increased the drug in the US from $13.50 to $750 stating that the manufacturing and research needed for the drug justifies the overall price increase. As tensions heated, Shkreli tried to leverage the blame game by pointing to other pharmaceutical companies how have applied the same price strategy.
Regardless of his statements, the media and public outcry continued to increase. The price increase has been criticized by a variety of people such as Hillary Clinton, the HIV Medicine Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, pop culture icons, various outspoken groups, and active members on social media like Twitter or Facebook. (Learn more in this video here.)
With such publicity and negative attention, Martin Shkreli has agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a more affordable rate in which the company can make a profit. While the price itself is still waiting to be determined, it is clear that the idea corporate greed is something the American people will not stand for. For an organization that deals with the life and death of people, drugs such as Daraprim that save lives have a sense of corporate responsibility that needs to weighed more strongly than the profit itself. It is not only their responsibility to provide a viable solution, but also to offer solution that can reach those that need it the most.
If you would like to learn more about Martin Shkreli, please take a look at his interview here.