Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, is the latest focus of the Internet outrage machine. And at first glance, it’s easy to see why.
On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article about Turing Pharmaceuticals’ decision to raise the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat parasitic infections in cancer and AIDS patients. Drug prices fluctuate all the time, but the fact that a pill of Daraprim went from $13.50 to $750 overnight drew sharp criticism from members of the medical community. And soon after the Times article, the social media hate began as well. After all, when you increase the price of a drug geared toward cancer and AIDS patents by more than 5000 percent, you pretty much come off looking like Hitler (and I’m not talking about the snazzy uniform).
But in an Interview with Bloomberg, Shkreli comes across as nearly human, and offers up a whole list of reasons why raising a drug by 5000 percent will end up helping people in the long run.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t add, much less subtract. Unfortunately, this means I have no idea if what Shkreli is saying is true. I’d like to believe him, mainly because I’d like to think that no one would intentionally screw over cancer patients. And it seems like a lot of people on Twitter want to believe him too.
But while I don’t know much about simple math, I do know a thing or two about Twitter. And according to Fusion.com, multiple Twitter accounts with IP addresses matching a company run by Shkreli were once used to tweet out favorable messages about the company, presumably to help inflate its stock price (which is illegal). If that’s true, it sort of makes you wonder how many of the tweets supporting him today are real.
The same company allegedly involved with the fake twitter accounts eventually sued Shkreli, claiming he used its funds like a private piggy bank in order to repay angry investors of a hedge fund he’d previously run into the ground.
Of course, these are just accusations which Shkreli calls “baseless and meritless.” And maybe he’s right. But when a guy surrounded in a cloud of controversy jacks up the price of a drug used to treat parasitic infections in cancer and AIDS patients by 5000 percent, it’s sort of hard to give him the benefit of the doubt.