Editorials

A dose of karma for ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents in New York after being arrested on suspicion of securities fraud. As a result of the charges, San Francisco-based KaloBios Pharmaceuticals fired Shkreli as CEO.
Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents in New York after being arrested on suspicion of securities fraud. As a result of the charges, San Francisco-based KaloBios Pharmaceuticals fired Shkreli as CEO. The Associated Press

The hits just keep on coming for Martin Shkreli – much to the amusement of anyone with a conscience – and he has no one to blame but himself. Call it karma.

A week ago, the 32-year-old was flying high as the egotistical, unrepentant head of San Francisco’s KaloBios Pharmaceuticals and New York’s Turing Pharmaceuticals.

By Friday, Shkreli, his face dark and downcast in a gray hoodie, was plastered across the front pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, announcing his arrest on suspicion of securities fraud. Within hours, he was forced out of both companies, and on Sunday his Twitter account got hacked.

How the high and mighty fall. Deservedly so, in this case.

We’re not usually ones to make fun of the misfortunes of others, but for Shkreli we’re inclined to make an exception. This “pharma bro” deserves to be roasted. He broke the rules of common decency, of decorum, of respect, and remains unapologetic. And now he is playing the victim.

 ‘Trying to find anything we could to stop him,’ was the attitude of the government,” Shkreli told The Journal on Sunday. “Beating the person up and then trying to find the merits to make up for it – I would have hoped the government wouldn’t take that kind of approach.”

Shkreli attained infamy by buying the rights to Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug used by pregnant women and people with AIDS, and jacking up the price of it by a shocking 5,000 percent.

When the inevitable backlash occurred, Shkreli argued the higher price would help the company develop new drugs. When that message didn’t work, he promised to lower the price, but changed his despicable mind once again.

Since then, he has embraced the public approbation, staging one obnoxious stunt after another, taunting the public on social media, mocking Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and bragging about his riches and women. He livestreams himself doing mundane tasks and, perhaps most notoriously, paid $2 million for a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that he has no plans to play.

Now he’s accused of breaking the rules of business. Prosecutors say he ran a Ponzi-like scheme from 2009 to 2014 to pay investors he defrauded. Shkreli, on the other hand, believes he was arrested for raising drug prices and “teasing people over the Internet.”

“What do you do when you have the attention of millions of people?” he told The Journal. “It seemed to me like it would be fun to experiment with.”

Shkreli’s experiment should be a warning to others. You can brag like a criminal or act like a criminal, but not both.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments