Excerpt from: CREDO Action
Just days after he purchased a drug for pregnant women and AIDS patients and announced he would jack up the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill, Martin Shkreli was tweeting about private planes and $20,000 bottles of wine.1 His obnoxious and ostentatious display of the worst of capitalism earned the 32-year-old former hedge fund manager the nickname “The Pharma Bro.”
Progressive Rep. Elijah Cummings had another word for Shkreli’s actions: “criminal.” He has called for congressional hearings, and he is pushing a strong bill – the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 – to crack down on all the “Pharma Bros” who profit off the sickness of others.2,3
Rep. Cummings’s new bill would force companies to be transparent about their pricing and allow Medicare to bargain prices down, and is being co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Pharma industry lobbyists and profit vultures like Shkreli will be fighting this one tooth and nail, so we are teaming up with our friends at National People’s Action to show that Americans demand an end to pharmaceutical drug price gouging.
Shkreli was recently fired as CEO of another pharmaceutical company for mismanagement, but not before buying up the rights to a drug for an incurable kidney disease and planning to increase the price more than 20 times.4
His new company recently bought Daraprim, a drug that has been on the market since 1953 and that helps pregnant women, AIDS patients, and others with compromised immune system. While Shkreli claimed the 5,500% price jump was necessary to fund a new version, doctors say there is no urgent need for a better version of the drug and he has no plans to do so. In fact, medical groups representing more than 10,000 medical professionals protested the price change in a letter to Shkreli.5
Throughout the controversy, Shkreli continued posting about his lavish lifestyle and mocked people’s concerns on social media. When asked how he could sleep at night, Shkreli laughed it off in a tweet saying “you know. ambien.”6 Under overwhelming public pressure, Shkreli announced he would lower the price – though he has not said how much – but still seek to earn a profit.7
Cummings is teaming up with Sen. Sanders to fight back against all the “Pharma Bros” like Shkreli. Drug companies have successfully lobbied to bar Medicare from using its massive buying power to negotiate lower drug prices, inflating the market for pharmaceuticals.
The Cummings-Sanders bill would change that, along with forcing companies to be transparent about how they price drugs and how much they cost overseas, crack down on companies that pay competitors to keep other drugs off the market, and institute stiffer penalties for those convicted of fraud.8
We need to show that public outrage against Shkreli extends to all who callously hike up prices of lifesaving medications for their own profit by demanding Congress pass this bill immediately.
The problem with the pharmaceutical industry is bigger than one individual. New treatments are debuting at sky-high prices, while even old generic drugs have seen price increases. In the past year, prices have gone up 12% on average, and at times over 1,000%, even though Americans already pay the highest prices for prescription drugs of anywhere in the world.
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is spending millions on marketing and lobbyists to protect its unfair monopolies.9
Rep. Cummings and Sen. Sanders are fighting back, and they need our help. Tell Congress: No more “pharma bros.” Immediately pass the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015.
- Go to the below site to sign the petition which would let Medicare bargain for lower prices on drugs,increase price transparency, and crack down on vultures who prey on the sick by hiking the prices of life-saving medication.
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Katie Halper, “These 37 tweets show how the pharma CEO gouging AIDS patients is even worse than you think,” Raw Story, September 21, 2015.
Judd Legum, “‘It’s Criminal’: Congressman Wants ‘Pharma Bro’ To Testify Under Oath,” Think Progress, September 22, 2015.
“Sanders, Cummings Introduce Comprehensive Legislation to Lower Soaring Drug Prices,” House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, September 10, 2015.
Samantha Allen, “Martin Shkreli Is Big Pharma’s Biggest A**hole,” The Daily Beast, September 21, 2015.
Tara Culp-Ressler, “Former Hedge Fund Manager Buys Rights To Drug For Pregnant Women, Increases Price 5500%,” Think Progress, September 21, 2015.
Legum, “‘It’s Criminal’: Congressman Wants ‘Pharma Bro’ To Testify Under Oath.”
Emily Jane Fox, “Turing Pharmaceuticals C.E.O.: We’ll Maybe Stop the Drug Price Gouging,” Vanity Fair, September 22, 2015.
Peter Loftus, “Bernie Sanders to Introduce Bill Targeting High Drug Prices,” The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2015.
“Sanders, Cummings Introduce Comprehensive Legislation to Lower Soaring Drug Prices.”
© 2015 CREDO. All rights reserved.