Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It couldn't happen to a nicer pharma exec

Given his back story, he's really someone you should want to root for, if not like:

The madein-America son of immigrant working stiffs (an Albanian and a Croatian who were janitors); a graduate of one of the City University of New York schools (Baruch); born on April Fools Day (no kidding); and with name that, if he were the kinder, gentler type, might have ended him up with a loveable little nickname (Shrek).

And yet, instead of rooting for him, most of us are booing at him. Or, if you look at the most recent bit of negativity he's gotten himself involved in, actively rooting against him.

Martin Shkreli got on the collective radar screen a few months back.

He became famous within a certain world [an internhsip with Wall Street loudmouth Jim Cramer, and early success running a hedge fund] but entered public consciousness after he raised the price more than 55-fold for Daraprim in September from $13.50 per pill to $750. It is the preferred treatment for a parasitic condition known as toxoplasmosis, which can be deadly for unborn babies and patients with compromised immune systems including those with HIV or cancer. His company, Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, bought the drug, moved it to a closed distribution system and instantly drove the price into the stratosphere. (Source: Bloomberg)
Raising the cost of this drug so quickly and steeply? We're talking kicking the dog and knocking the walker out from under an old geezer territory here. 

Shkreli's decision did manage to unite pols across the spectrum. Both The Donald and Hillary went after him, and Bernie refused his campaign donation. Shkreli's response: he tweeted out an LOL directed at Hillary, and said that, if he had to do it all over again, he would have lifted the price even higher. After all, as he said, "My investors expect me to maximize profits."

Or at least produce some return on investment. And Shkreli's secret sauce was, apparently, the same one that Bernie Madoff used.

As we learned just last week, when he was arrested, accused of running a Ponzi scheme, "repeatedly losing money for investors and lying to them about it, illegally taking assets from one of his companies to pay off debtors in another." He was pinched by the FBI, and had to o a perp walk at FBI headquarters. 

Shkreli has, apparently, been Ponzi-scheming for quite a while:

...authorities say Shkreli began losing money and lying to investors from the time he began managing money. In his mid-20s, he got nine investors to place $3 million with him and at one point he had only $331.
That's some fancy-pants investing, I'd say. No wonder he felt the need to raise that pill price form $13.50 to $750

Moving from bad to ridiculous, the Shkreli story gets even more cra.

The rap group Wu-Tang Clan decided they were going to release only one copy of their new album, selling it to the highest bidder. That bidder couldn't sell it on the secondary market, but could give it away for free or sit at home and listen to it all by his lonesome. It almost, but not quite, goes without saying that, for $2M that may or may not have been his, Shkreli bought the album

Anyway, it may not be a pretty story, and it may not be the ones we love to tear-up over, but Martin Shkreli's story is sure All-American. Who gets to play him in the movie? And will the soundtrack by from Wu-Tang Clan? All America wants to know

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