It recently came to light that after acquiring the exclusive rights to market a drug known as Daraprim, which is used to combat toxoplasmosis, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG increased the price of the medicine from $18 to $750 per pill.
In defense of the price increase, Martin Shkreli, the head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, attacked critics, calling one journalist a moron and stating that he is able to sleep at night because he takes Ambien. While Shkreli has been vilified by both traditional and social media, a lawsuit in which he is involved has been missed.
Approximately one month ago, Shkreli was sued by and subsequently fired from Retrophin, Inc., a company he founded. The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Manhattan, accuses him of breaching his fiduciary duties to the company by using sham consulting agreements. According to the lawsuit, he was enriched by approximately $65 million, including cash and stock.
Because the use of Daraprim is commonly associated with the treatment of HIV/AIDS, there is a certain sensationalistic quality to this story. However, the undertone is one of a greedy hedge fund manager seeking to get rich off of the backs of the less advantaged. What may end up playing out, though, is that Shkreli’s greed is indiscriminate and that he is willing to make a buck wherever he can, legal or not.
This developing story is worth following. Shkreli has already responded to media backlash with a promise to lower the price of the drug. It will, no doubt, get more interesting as time goes on.