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We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19330329.

I'm confused. That is not the original post that I was commenting on. The original post I commented on called Martin Shkreli one of the shittiest human beings on the face of the earth. I could be missing something though...maybe it got edited? Is it possible to give some more info on how/why/where this got detached?

EDIT: Never mind. I'm dumb. I see that flagged comment now. My bad.

Why do you say this? That's an incredibly bold claim.

I think you should start with:


You're like everyone else who hates Shkreli. You don't know anything about him.

Someone asks you to conjure up a concrete criticism of the guy, and you just link to his Wikipedia page like you're being clever. Shkreli is an excellent man who's suffered a great deal of abuse and disparagement, and it's tremendously disappointing to continue to see comments like this in a venue that's supposed to know better.

He gouged the sick for profit. Is that concrete enough?

From what I understand he only raised prices that insurance companies would pay. He offered the drug for free to anyone without insurance who couldn't afford it. So, not exactly.

Also, that money from insurance companies would go to the development of better and safer drugs. People just tend to skim the surface of a news story and form their opinions based on public consensus, which is that Shkreli is an evil person. Of course in reality, he's a distraction.

And if someone (unnecessarily, I presume - I doubt the drug had been a loss-maker while it was selling at a lower price) dramatically raises the price of a drug to insurance companies, where do you suppose the insurance companies will look to find the extra money?

In the case of Daraprim? Nowhere. It's not a drug many people need. Shrkreli himself has talked about this. It simply wouldn't be able to make a dent because of this, and it didn't.

If I'm recalling correctly, and I might not be, Shkreli is agnostic about the larger policy issue at hand, he simply made a choice for his own business that had little to no negative real impact.

>>He gouged the sick for profit. Is that concrete enough?

Who in that (for profit) business doesn't???? Excluding Mother Teresa like foundations...

Why do you think out health care bill is so freaking high? Because of compassion from pharma CEOs?

KUKU bro, he [provided a cure] to [people with life-threatening illness] for PROFIT?

Is this Hacker News?

One of the shittiest human beings on the face of the earth? Really? There are people alive today who have committed mass genocide. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are probably shittier human beings than Martin Shkreli. So no, not concrete enough.


Personal attacks will get you banned here. Please don't post like this again.


I said nothing of his criminality or ethics. I just said he's not one of the shittiest human beings on the face of the earth. I mean you could kind of argue that OP thinks it's a race to the bottom, not me.

Personal attacks break the HN guidelines.

> Shkreli is an excellent man who's suffered a great deal

Unsure if trolling.

I think this is at least a little dishonest, since I have a hard time believing you are unaware of, if not the details of, at least the existence of his legal and moral controversies and his antagonistic personality. It's not a "bold claim" - it's a very common claim rooted in understandable human reactions. Whether or not it is justified in all contexts is a legitimate question that should be discussed.

I don't think his actions are as malicious as the media portrayed. But that's not why I added my comment.

The reason I say it's a bold claim is that I don't think he even makes the list of worst people on the earth. There's literally people Committing genocide. I would never put Mr. Skrelli in the same category as a murderer.

He has acted in a way that is pretty clearly against societal ethics (if we can ignore the uber libretarian capitalists which I still consider to be a fringe group). He deprived other living beings of their right to a healthy life to marginally improve his own standing while paying down a debt he fraudulently accrued for his own self-interest.

There's an interesting thing in societal norms, they shift over time. So if you were aware of his actions fully (and I didn't cover all the details here) and do feel like it's a bold claim I'd be curious to know (if you'd share it) which generational group you're in and where abouts in the country you are. There has lately, in American culture, been this glorification of white collar bad-boys and I find it deeply disturbing myself due to the immense volume of harm they end up bringing to undeserving people without the means to deflect it.

> He deprived other living beings of their right to a healthy life

If you do even the slightest bit of (primary source) research into this, you will find that this is not true.

You're mistaking what he is for something else. He's not a white-collar bad boy, he's a troll.

I disagree strongly with that, raising the price of a drug beyond the point of being able to sustain production of it is an ethical minefield, you are disqualifying some patients access to the drug by doing so and you're increasing the burden on patients that can afford the increased price. In our modern world we're pretty happy to excuse moves like this as "market effects" and ignore the real cost of them but there absolutely is a real cost in terms of the quality of lives other human beings are able to lead.

I'm sorry but you act like the insurance companies weren't the target of his scheme and not the patients. Why do you think he got hit so hard? It's because his scheme was effective. I wouldn't be surprised if the insurance companies helped bankroll the investigation and prosecution at the start. He would even give the drug away for free if they couldn't afford it. The same thing goes for other specialty HIV drugs like truvada.

It's like the old saying about Russian vs. American missiles, "The Americans build a bomb that can flatten a one mile radius and drop it on the target, the Russians build a bomb that can flatten a ten mile radius and drop it near the target" his offer to "give away the drug for free if they couldn't afford it" wasn't realized, he may have intended it but people off insurance that didn't qualify for medicaid price reductions got hit with the full price - additionally insured customers who were getting the low out of pocket price were still being penalized for requiring such an expensive drug. The system is broken, absolutely, but that doesn't give him a get-out-of-ethical-violations-free card.

There's a sibling post I wrote with my personal experience dealing with the ridiculousness of drug pricing, these tricks and games do hit people.

> I'm sorry but you act like the insurance companies weren't the target of his scheme

They weren't; insurance company profits are limited to a percentage of reimbursed costs, so the insurers were incedental beneficiaries of the scheme.

The targets were insurance premium payers.

What you said is not entirely true. Daraprim (the drug you are referring to) costs $10 out of pocket for insured patients. For uninsured low income patients it's free of charge.

My line of work makes me pretty familiar with the insurance market, there is no way a drug manufacturer can ensure $10 out of pocket, they can lobby for certain drug level coverage in formularies but where they land and what those levels translate to in terms of cost is up to the drug company, ways around this that have been tried (drug companies offering manufacturer rebate coupons to lower out-of-pocket costs) can be countered by insurance companies refusing to cover costs that a rebate would cover or refusing to cover any costs without the rebate being activated...

What you said is not an achievable statement.

From what I understand only the patients insurance would have to carry the extra costs, those who were unable to pay up were given it for free.

Insurance companies are not a charity. Of course you're paying the cost. You just pay it in higher premiums.

That's possibly true, I don't know much about the American health care system however I can't imagine they would significantly raise the cost of your insurance plan beyond what you're able to pay because you needed a 2 week supply of drugs to treat a one-off parasitic infection.

If the American health care system is so broken that insurance companies are making people destitute for receiving care then the USA has bigger problems than a single CEO.

That is unfortunately exactly what is happening, as an example here's an article from back in 2018 about the 650mil being independently raised on GoFundMe to address inflated costs.


"If the American health care system is so broken" – yes. yes it is that broken.

Do you have any evidence that anyone was actually hurt (in the medical sense) by this? Typically pharma companies (including turing) offer discounts for those who can't afford it. De facto, the price is a price for insurance holders, not for the general public. The scam exists because the government wants to encourage manufacturers to revive generics (they very much focus on patent evergreening etc). Ultimately the whole thing is wierdly not a free market, as the scamming strategies depend on enforceable artificial monopolies created to artificially incentivise activities that the government assumes we wouldn't do otherwise.

Yea, I've been through some different phases in my life and taken a drug through most of it at the same dosage, there was a year when I had a crazy pricing experience. At the beginning of the year I was covered by Green Mountain Care in VT (the state medicare for all program) and paid 0$ for a 30 day refill of my medication, then I had a lapse in coverage due to employment insurance not kicking in right and ended up paying 264$ for my 30 day supply and when my insurance kicked in I had the Cigna preferred rate of 186$ for 30 days (I had no coverage for that drug, but I did have general pharma coverage). Mid-way through the year we switched insurers and I ended up paying 28$ for a 30 day supply for a few years and then in Nov or Oct a generic came on the market and I dropped down to 3$ of a 30 day supply.

This story is personal and doesn't involve any drugs Shkreli was directly involved with but I'm putting it out there to demonstrate the sort of BS pricing all throughout the pharma market, there are I'm sure some people with bad or no coverage but living just above the Medicaid line that had to pay full out-of-pocket price for Daraprim after the price hike from 13.50/pill to 750/pill, this problem really does hit people.

I agree that there are multiple solutions and issues here, the fact that the government allows market control via eternally extended patents (oh my, read about the history of insulin and how the Canadian inventors released it for free for ethical reasons and now a few companies have a stranglehold on the market) definitely contributes a lot to this situation, but even when looking at medical procedure billing you can easily find crazy market disparities in costs between hospitals down the street from one another - and medical procedures are (mostly) out of the government's hands, that's just unethical companies pumping up the prices on inelastic goods because they can.

Your question doesn't really apply to this last bit but I thought I'd add... Shkreli himself is not just a scapegoat, he was a bad actor and deserves what he's getting, unfortunately it is quite fair to point out that people who have acted equally unethically have felt no problems for their actions because, unfortunately, currently those unethical actions are not illegal in our society - as the Shkreli case and the vitriol around it demonstrates, we, the society, feel like this is an unethical state. There are arguments to be had about the tyranny of the majority and the unfair partial application of the law but... that's all just wool gathering to avoid the truth.

Wait, are you talking about Martin Shkreli or the Pharmaceutical Industry?

he provided that aids medicine for free to people who couldn't afford it at least that's what he claimed in an interview he did on his youtube channel. He seems to be more of a troll. It struck me as strange that in most cases he didn't bother to defend himself and kind of enjoyed being viewed as a villain.

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