The life of Martin Shrkeli seems identical to a shitty anti-Wall street Hollywood blockbuster that comes out once every five years.  He fits the caricature perfectly: reckless lifestyle, a self absorbed douche bag, an attention whore, and a smug attitude that would make even a nun want to beat him with a baseball bat.  While people dwell and pray for Shrkeli’s down fall, this escapade actually has some valuable lessons that often not are never recognized.  We will see why this dramatic event actually opens up the doors to great insights that explain the pharmaceutical industry and government legislative follies that made this event possible in the first place.

 

This all started when Turning Pharmaceuticals, a corporation which Martin Shrkeli was formerly a CEO, raised the price of a drug called Daraprim to astronomical levels.  The price of a drug went from $13 dollars a pill to $750 dollars overnight.  This caused in uproar in the media; you can hear the nooses getting tighten up and  preparing to wring Martin’s throat until he was out of breath.  As the condemnation of Shrkeli grew, the underlying messages were totally being missed, and the truth of the matter was forgotten.  No one seemed to be asking the important questions of why such an event took place.

 

So what were the foundations and fundamental causes that made the event even possible? One of them is the overwhelming amount of burdensome regulations which make it for wealthy businesses to achieve a monopolistic status.  And that is exactly what happened.  Daraprim is a generic drug — meaning it’s not patented and that it is identical to other branded drugs in properties, characteristics, dosage, etc.  At the time, after Shkreli purchased the rights to the drug for 55 million dollars, Turning Pharmaceuticals became the only seller of the drug at that moment.  Mr. Shkreli noticed this opportunity and took full advantage of it.

 

Martin knew that to get any kind of generic drug onto the drug market is extremely costly and time consuming.  Obtaining an abbreviated approval from the FDA to sell generic drugs is a task that not many are able to accomplish.  With these regulations in place, and with little competition in sight, Turning Pharmaceuticals was able to have a stranglehold on this particular market and rose its prices to unthinkable levels.  And now we’re in this predicament of mudslinging and character bashing instead of an actual conversation that can bring progress to the pharmaceutical industry and to the lives of the ill who suffer from the current distorted drug market.  It is without question that the government played a role in creating the environment that allowed Shrkeli to even have an opportunity of doing such a thing — even if the congressman men and women didn’t do it intentionally.  For certain, this wouldn’t have happened if the FDA didn’t impose strict and time consuming regulations to get a generic drug on the market.  These regulations not only impede on competition in America, but also on imported drugs from other countries — such as India where the same pill costs 5 cents.

 

There’s an important lesson that underlies this story: if you build it they will come.  When the government builds the structures that gluttonous pharma bros like Shrkeli will take advantage of them.  You can criticize Shrkeli til your face turns blue, but that would fix the problems that started this mess.  Don’t be surprise if you see more of these kinds of people pop up more often in the future.  If our government decides to answer this predicament with more legislation, it is only going to be kicking the can down the road.  Despise this man all you want, but you cannot deny the unraveling that he has done to the crony pharmaceutical industry, and the corrupt legislative processes which have put in place all the perfect ingredients to stir up these events.  There’s a lesson in everything; sometimes it comes from the evil that we wish to dispose.