What’s The Word With Martin Shkreli?
Martin Shkreli has made the news a number of times over the last few years. It’s safe to say that the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals is one of the most despised people in the world, mainly for raising the price of a life saving drug called Daraprim that is used to treat Toxoplasmosis, a sickness that affects HIV, cancer and malaria patients. Originally, the drug cost roughly $13.50 USD/pill and overnight, the price of the drug shot up to a mind-numbing $750 – and not for a prescription – that’s for a single pill.
The world collectively said, “Screw you Shkreli,” and he was blasted all over the news and on social media. At first, he seemed to shut down at sight of the hate, but after a few weeks he practically embraced it.
We need to note that he’s not the first person and most certainly won’t be the last to raise the cost of a life saving medication, companies have been doing it for years. The reason this story blew up the way that it did was because of the % in which the cost of the drug was raised. In the past, we’ve seen the price of some heart medications soar as much as 525%. Martin defended his price increase by stating, “We need to turn a profit on the drug. We’re the first company to really focus on it and research is very expensive.”
Now, the thing that most don’t know, or fail to believe, is that Martin has on numerous occasions gone on record to state that he and his company are more than willing to give away the drug for free. This includes those that can’t afford to pay for it and those whose insurance leaves them with too hefty of a co-pay. Martin claims that the only ones who will be getting stiffed are insurance companies and hospitals. However, we all know that mud rolls downhill so any increased cost that the insurance companies have to bare will surely affect the premiums of those that need the drug.
News has recently come out that a group of Australian high school students in Sydney have stepped up to the plate to essentially destroy the need for Shkreli’s drug to exist. They found a way to recreate the anti-parasitic drug for a whopping (get ready for this) $2 a pill. That’s even lower than the cost of Daraprim before Martin got his little-Shkreli fingers on it.
One of the students that took part in creating the substitute was Milan Leonard who spoke with ABC news Australia about the moment they realized they had done it. “It was bliss, it was euphoric.” Milan and his peers are currently writing a paper about the process of creating the drug and applying for FDA approval.
Besides Shkreli’s aptitude for business, he likes music and has a rather extensive collection of unreleased songs from some of the world’s biggest musicians. The catalogue includes The Beatles, 2Pac, Nirvana, Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix, Brand New, Smiths, Elliot Smith, The Ramones, and of course, he’s the owner of the only copy of a rare Wu-Tang album titled “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”.
The folks over at The Guinness Book of World Records have confirmed that the rare Wu-Tang album is the most expensive album in the world. However, some would argue that fact because the album is actually a double album. So, technically, Martin owns 2 unreleased Wu-Tang albums, and the $2 million price tag was actually $1 million a piece, but I digress.
The first CD in the double album is called “Shaolin School” and has 13 tracks while the second is titled “Allah School” and also has 13 tracks. The total run time of both CD’s played back to back is just over 110 minutes. Sounds like an hour and 40 minutes of pure bliss if you ask me. You can read the tracklist here.
“Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” sold for $2 million and special legal structures had to be created for the sale of the album. There is an unprecedented copyright applied to the album: it cannot be commercially released until the year 2130. Although the album can’t be sold, there are also stipulations placed in the sales agreement that specify that the album can be given away for free and the owner of the album can play it for others at a “listening party” with no specifications on the size of said party. Well, Martin promised on Twitter that if Donald Trump won the presidential election, he would release the album, but if Hillary Clinton won, he would destroy it!
As it turned out, Trump defeated Clinton so Martin began periodically streaming parts of the tracks from the album. You can listen to a snippet here! If you want someone to scapegoat for Trump being elected, you might want to put some of that blame on Shkreli and some unreleased Wu-Tang music.
Legally speaking, Martin has some rough years ahead of himself. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has charged with him with Securities Fraud in relation to his time at MSMB Capital Management and Retrophin. They’re accusing him of orchestrating a Ponzi-like racket where he “engaged in multiple schemes to ensure investors through a web of lies and deceit”.
Martin was brought in front of the House Oversight Committee to testify on charges of price gouging in drug sales, but Shkreli chose to plead the fifth and did not answer any questions. In fact, he seemed disinterested and was seen smirking and rolling his eyes for the majority of the hearing.
Shkreli is also an avid gamer, he streams while playing League of legends under the title “Imagine Cerebral” and “Turingboss” and has even toyed with the idea of buying his very own Esports team to compete professionally. He attempted to purchase Enemy Esports, but they rejected his offer of $1.2 million. Martin went on to found his own team naming it Odyssey eSports, eventually merging Odyssey with Imagine. Shkreli live streams both League of Legends and chess on YouTube. Originally, Martin streamed via Twitch, but his account was terminated without providing a specific reason.
On top of all this, he teaches free online classes on finance and chemistry where he coaches students about the basics of the two subjects. You can watch his Intro to Investing and Finance video here!