Hom Box

In Defence of Martin Shkreli

DR Williams

Having previously taken the piss out of Martin Shkreli, this is something of a U-turn. It isn't that I don't think he's a dick. He is. On a personal level he seems very unlikeable and has an insufferably smug face one can best describe with the word 'punchable'.
But saying that he is price-gouging sick people really just seems to be dishonest at this point. There hasn't been a single story in the last three months about a patient not getting treatment for toxoplasmosis as a result of Daraprim's price hike, and that absence is... kinda telling. I'm inclined to believe what Turing said about subsidising the cost of the drug for the uninsured and underinsured. And Turing -- of which, as of today, Shkreli is no longer the CEO -- was not put together as a scam operation. There's a decent team on board, and this really just looks like the first part of his ongoing business plan: corner the market on specialist drugs other companies have deemed unprofitable, and then hike the price up and gouge insurance companies. They probably originally figured the insurance company would be the one getting the bad PR, and it would not entirely surprise me if somebody at one of the bigger insurance companies was the one who brought this price hike to the media's attention in the first place. (I stand by my original assessment of Shkreli from my previous comic about him: his grasp of PR is terrible and he should really look into hiring someone who can rehab his public image and make him seem halfway likeable, assuming he doesn't go to prison for the next twenty years for financial fraud.)
And moreover, his entire approach is basically a mad-libbed Bernie Sanders platform. If you're okay with Bernie saying he'll tax rich people to help poor people, you kinda have to be okay with Shkreli saying the same thing. Like I said before, that doesn't mean he isn't still a dick, and, if the allegations are true, a massive financial huckster. But it really sorta looks like hiking the price of Daraprim is one of the few things where he's not wrong, Walter, he's just an asshole.

And, as the comic reminds us, there are way, way, worse people around.

All writing DRW 2011-2018 unless otherwise noted. All artwork by DRW (except for the bits that aren't.)