Service of Greed: Will it Get You One or Another Way?

July 3rd, 2017

Categories: Greed, Medicine, Pharmaceutical

Martin Shkreli is on trial for federal securities fraud, but regardless of how the judge instructs the jury to forget his arrogance in another high profile example of greed, it may nevertheless impact his destiny. Well over 100 potential jurors were already excused because they had nasty things to say about the man.

I previously wrote about Shkreli in “Service of Side Effects of Drug Prices.” He earned the rights to a life-saving drug, Daraprim, that for decades saved lives of those with a potentially fatal parasitic infection, when he bought a drug company, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG. He raised the price of a pill to $750 from $13.50 because, as Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Davis O’Brien quoted him, “he had an obligation to ‘maximize our profit.’”

Let the jury decide his fate.

Speaking of drugs and greed, the EpiPen price-gouging saga comes close, but there’s hope. Read on.

Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, led the charge on the price of the emergency allergy medicine from $94 for a pair when her company purchased the product, to $700, for those without insurance, or $630 with. Further, the pens need to be replaced every year. Under pressure, the company subsequently introduced a generic version that cost $225-$425 wrote Linda A. Johnson, ABC News.

“Analysts and others have estimated that it costs less than $20 to produce a pair of EpiPens,” she reported.

This was background to the real focus of Johnson’s news: The FDA “approved Adamis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s product, which should go on sale later this year. Symjepi is a syringe prefilled with the hormone epinephrine, which helps stop life-threatening allergic reactions from insect stings and bites, foods such as nuts and eggs, or certain medications.”

She continued: “Adamis spokesman Mark Flather said Symjepi is intended to be a “low-cost alternative” to EpiPen and similar products, and the company is aiming to sell it for less than generic EpiPens.” Claims about Symjepi range from being easier to use than EpiPen and because the syringe is smaller, it fits more easily in pockets and handbags.

Here’s hoping Symjepi [what a name] will represent healthy competition to EpiPen, serving to adjust the prices of all antidotes to severe allergies. “Adamis said it is still lining up a distributor so it hasn’t set the exact price for its product, which will be sold in pairs like EpiPen,” wrote Johnson.

I believe in profits but really.

  • How can a manufacturer of life-saving medicines gouge to such an extent and sleep at night?
  • How can investors stand silent?
  • Is this approach standard practice with pharmaceuticals?
  • Are there any benevolent CEOs?
  • Are these manufacturers encouraged by the climate in which 217 House members and at least 43 Senators don’t blink at tossing 22 million off health insurance while lowering taxes for the wealthy?
  • And last, public pressure has put an end to careers of corporate and religious sexual abusers and loudmouth public figures who use inappropriate language. Will it impact flagrant examples of corporate greed?

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8 Responses to “Service of Greed: Will it Get You One or Another Way?”

  1. JBS Said:

    I’ve just been put on a new medication that is supposed to grow bone. Since I have severe Osteoporosis and a cracked tailbone that refuses to heal, I have no choice but to use it. (I need to inject myself with it daily.) My cost is $1,150 … my insurance paid more than $2,000. I darn near fainted at the drugstore when I picked it up. This is simply outrageous. I can’t refuse to use this because I am in pain and it is the only medication that might work. My doctor, a rheumotologist, told me it would be expensive but not how much. He has an individual in his practice who does nothing except work with insurance companies to persuade them to cover expensive drugs. (Many of his patients have rheumatoid arthritis and that, too, often requires expensive medications.)

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Gosh JBS, What a thing. I take it it’s over $1,150/month? I wonder how much the drug costs to make. I KNOW that research is costly and that this company, unlike those in the examples on the post that upcharged existing meds, needs to recoup that cost but maybe not at such a gallop.

    I admire that you are able to inject yourself. Not sure I could though if I had to….Hoping that the employee at your doctor’s office is able to figure out how this drug might cost you less.

  3. HB Said:

    Bearing in mind that, supposedly, in this best of all possible worlds, we enjoy the supposed benefits of modern civilization as a consequence of societal acceptance of capitalist free enterprise, uninhibited by an excess of state interference, then your questions may be answered as follows:

    1. Theoretically, the true entrepreneur will always act in his own self-interest, like price gouge when he can, but not kill any “geese laying golden eggs.” Over time, supposedly civilization will benefit, and any state action to protect consumers will only disrupt the process.

    2. Shareholders, likewise, should only concern themselves with return on investment, and use that measure to rate management.

    3. I hope not.

    4. Yes, there are. I worked for one once.

    5. Yes, I believe that they are. After all, those elected members of congress, whether in agreement or not with the proposed massive tax benefit for the very rich, are only acting in their own best interest. They want to be reelected.

    6. Regrettably, I just don’t know anymore. However, I do believe that 37 years of tilt towards free enterprise behavior run amok, has had a nasty effect upon the civility of how we all now get along with each other. I doubt that the publicity which brought a few practitioners will have much effect on mass behavior in the long run.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t argue with your answers. Wish I could. What happens to children whose parents bring them up to be compassionate, empathetic citizens? Perhaps there will be enough of them to help turn the tide of overwhelming greed to be like the CEO you once worked for. I was fortunate to work for a few myself. They are all retired or have left this world. I have also worked for and continue to represent clients who want to turn a profit, or have their messages heard, but who are realistic and nothing like the people in the post. If you want to find troves of kinder successful people, check out the working volunteers at charities, in mentoring programs, at hospitals. These organizations are flanked by unsung heroes. You won’t see their names in lights but they lighten the load of less fortunate citizens making the world a far more palatable place in which to live.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    A conviction is fine, but serves only as a band aid on a growing cancer which appears to have metastasized : Corporate greed. Surgery may start with closing all retail stores and all nonessential businesses on important holidays so that workers may celebrate with the rest of us, and forcing the medical field to emphasize healing as opposed to impoverishing the afflicted.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Funny you mentioned closing non-essential businesses on important holidays. We were on a bus, passing a favorite haunt of mine that was open on the Fourth of July and my husband said he thought those people should have the day off.

    It would cost a business with thousands of employees a ton of money to pay staff for those days off but in a perfect, corporate-greed-free world, that would be a start. As for having the stomach to gouge a sick person as in the two examples in the post, there are no words.

    My dentist prescribes a mouthwash that for years cost me $8.00 for three pint-sized bottles. The price jumped to $16 for two bottles. The druggist said it’s the insurance companies’ decision. Although a different subject, the insurance companies also have their paws in the cost-to-consumer mess.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    Medication price gouging seems unpardonable. I am tired of having pepople who work for pharmaceutical companies lamenting the enormous amount of money these companies put into sponsored research, and the fact that university professors have to bring in huge amounts of such money to upkeep their research and their positions. It seems like a merry-go-round of greed that also fails to, among other things, recognise the the financial costs of illness on society as a whole. I cannot find reasonable excuse for the unmitigated anti-social greed of Shrekli and Bresch.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree with you. What’s worse about the Shrekli and Bresch examples is that theirs were drugs that had been around for ages– their companies didn’t pay for the research and FDA approval process.

    And the thinking of the lawmakers in Washington who seem to feel that it’s cheaper to revive a person who is almost dead than to catch a disease when the cure or maintenance has minimal costs makes no sense. And the inhumane part of this equation is more baffling.

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