The trial involving Martin Shkreli has ended in New York. He is the entrepreneur who shot to notoriety after his biotech company bought the rights to a cheap life-saving drug (Daraprim) for the treatment of AIDS and cancer and increased its price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. This effectively was a sentence of death for those who could no longer afford the medicine.
This money-grabbing scumbag was found guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. However, his fancy lawyer managed to get a number of charges thrown out and it is now possible that this individual will not spend a single day behind bars, whereas many ordinary mortals are locked up at the drop of a hat for hardly anything.
Shkreli said he was “delighted” at the outcome. “The punishments are going to be close to nil”, he bragged on Facebook.
Mr Brafman, his lawyer, described him as “one of the most brilliant minds of his generation.” Well, it has been said that Al Capone had a brilliant mind. To society, Shkreli is as socially useful as Al Capone.
It is true that he was considered an aspiring young entrepreneur in the biotech industry. But this turned sour after he profited from Daraprim by raising its price by 5,000 per cent. He was said to be “worth” $200 million at one point.
But his efforts added no extra value to Daraprim. It was exactly the same pill as before. He just cornered the market which allowed him to charge a monopoly price.
“To me the drug was wholly underpriced,” he said. He complains he should have raised the price even higher. “It is not a question of ‘Is this fair?’, or ‘What did you pay for it?’ or ‘When was it invested’. It should be more expensive in many ways.”
He boasts of attempts to buy other life-saving drugs through an “ingenious plan” to drastically inflate their prices. He suggests that bosses who fail to follow this ruthless path are defrauding their investors. “If you have a drug that is $100 for one course of therapy, and you can charge $100,000, what should shareholders think when you say ‘I’d rather not take the heat”, he asks.
“My whole life has been for one theme of sacrifice for my investors,” he says. “I did it for my shareholders’ benefit because that is my job.”
He is a dedicated follower of profit, no matter what the cost. This is his morality. He makes millions of dollars in the process he calls “his job”, as if he is an ordinary Joe. But he is far from this.
Shkreli’s brash approach has been an embarrassment to his fellow capitalists. He is a businessman who stole millions - and got away with it. The scale of his sheer greed has shone an unwelcome light on the capitalist system and its dog-eat-dog morality. He was too loud, too honest and too open in his exploits.
Among the pharmaceutical bosses, many bemoan the fact that the public backlash against the high price of drugs will squeeze their bonuses and profits.
They are all like Shkreli to one degree or another but they simply keep quiet about it. That’s their style: keep quiet and make shed fulls of money.
His actions were criticised by Hillary Clinton during the Presidential campaign. “If I am greedy and addicted to money, she is greedy and addicted to power,” he said in reply, exposing Clinton’s millions of personal wealth and her links to Wall Street.
There is no honour amongst thieves. Shkreli has simply exposed the crap below the surface. He has shown the real morality of capitalism, where profit is king and to hell with everything else.