Six minutes. That’s how long it took for Martin Shkreli to go from being just another CEO of a drug company to one of the most hated men in America. When Shkreli’s company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the rights to the antiparasitic drug Daraprim in 2015, Turing promptly hiked the price from $13.50 a pill to a whopping $750—even though it costs only pennies to make. In a six-minute interview with CNBC, Shkreli justified the move by claiming his company would use the profits to invent new drugs. That’s when his smug non-apology, and his name, went viral.
Now, four years after Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud, America still loves to hate the “pharma bro.” But for all the attention Shkreli gets, he’s just one member of a large gallery of rogues from inside U.S. health care.
Practically every day there’s a news story about a bad actor taking advantage of vulnerable patients. That may seem hard to believe given the kind of heroism we’ve all seen during COVID-19 as health-care workers put their own lives on the line to care for others. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. Unfortunately, for every person in our health-care system who has acted bravely, there is no shortage of selfish Shkrelis out there—like the hospital that used a technicality to force a nearly $900,000 medical bill on its own employee after a traumatic childbirth.