Martin Shkreli became the most hated man on the Internet in epic fashion last month.
First, he bought the rights to a medication, Daraprim, that was selling for $13.50 and jacked the price up to $750 a pill, an increase of 5,000 percent. The outrage commenced.
Which brings us to the second part that put him over the top as most hated man — his response.
He wasn’t just unapologetic, he was aggressively defending his actions. People did not like that. The attacks on his and his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, continued until finally, he announced they would be lowering the price.
“We’ve agreed to lower the price on Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit,” he told ABC News. “We think these changes will be welcomed.”
The brouhaha basically died down, but the resentment and hatred for Shrekli only smoldered, waiting for a reason to flare back up. Yesterday, Imprimis Pharmaceuticals threw gasoline on the coals.
In a news release, Mark L. Baum, CEO of Imprimis wrote, “Last month, Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, the sole supplier of Daraprim, increased the price of this prescription drug from $13.50 per tablet to a reported $750.00 per tablet. The FDA-approved label for Daraprim indicates that it is prescribed for toxoplasmosis and other types of infections.”
He then announced, “Imprimis is now offering customizable compounded formulations of pyrimethamine and leucovorin in oral capsules starting as low as $99.00 for a 100 count bottle, or at a cost of under a dollar per capsule.”
Shrekli’s detractors hit warp drive on their keyboards. Occupy Democrats wrote, “Price-Gouging Pharma CEO Fuming As Rival Creates $1 Alternative AIDS Drug.” The headline on the vile website Gawker read, “Heroic Pharmaceutical Company Savagely Undercuts Martin Shkreli’s Pill Scam.” Raw Story‘s headline was, “San Diego company slaps ‘Pharma Bro’ down by offering same cancer drug for $1 a pill,” while US Uncut titled their article, “Greedy Pharma CEO Explodes as Competitor Offers Alternative $1 AIDS pill.”
(In the article, it was revealed that Shrekli’s response was a text that read “lol,” but putting that in a headline doesn’t get clicks.)
Many of the people celebrating the arrival of Imprimis were also advocates of a statist economy, where the government plays a major role. Occupy Democrats are evangelists for Democratic Socialism.
That’s why it’s incredible they are leading the charge on throwing this news back in Shrekli’s face. It wasn’t collectivism or state action that did this.
It was capitalism. It was the free-market. It was all profit motive.
Here’s how it works. There’s a need. A company comes along, like Turing Pharmaceuticals, and fills that need and starts making a profit. Someone sees them making a profit and says to themselves, “Hey, I like money. I can do that. Let’s do it too, but sell it for less money.”
This is what’s known as “competition.” Each company now vies for greater market share and overall profit by providing the best product at the lowest price possible. This rivalry wasn’t the result of some government mandate. It wasn’t a regulation.
It was a desire to make money.
All of the people who are celebrating Imprimis’ actions are celebrating what free-market advocates have been saying would happen were regulations to suddenly disappear. Competition between businesses over your money would motivate them to drive prices down while ramping quality and options up. You’re seeing it happen right here in this example.
And it isn’t just cold hard cash from sales that’s driving this. Look at all the free press Imprimis is getting. They are loved.
Imprimis, if they don’t sell one pill, they have done something few, if any, pharmaceutical companies have ever done. They got themselves described as “heroic” by the hard left. This positive press increases the value of their brand. Now, if someone wants to buy them, they can demand more.
They are making money even without selling anything except their actions.
This is what capitalism does. This is what happens in a free-market. People aren’t exploited. They are catered to by businesses who want their money.
The one who can best provide for a need at the lowest price will win out.
Now if only we can get the people who are cheering for single payer while silmultaneously patting Imprimis on the back to understand that fact.