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Christmas Pharma Karma

I woke up last week to the news of Martin Shkreli being arrested by the FBI on serious fraud charges relating to his previous businesses, a Pharma company and a Hedge Fund.

In case you haven't heard, Mr Shkreli owns an American Pharmaceutical company - Turing Pharmaceuticals. Prior to this he enjoyed a colourful career that seems to have kept a high percentage of US lawyers in business.

Turing Pharmaceuticals recently acquired the rights to a drug called Daraprim, used for the treatment of a rare infection - toxoplasmosis. Daraprim is most commonly used for people with weakened, compromised immune systems, such as Aids. Those infected rely on it to ease their suffering.

The drug usually costs $13.50 a dose. Mr Shkreli recently decided he would raise the price to $750 a dose - a 5000% increase. Although this seems hard to justify, Mr Shkreli went on the attack with a spirited and punchy defense of his position.

I have tried to find something likeable about Mr Shkreli. Usually, there is something to like about terrible people. Some are funny, many are handsome, charismatic or have a great sense of humour. Unfortunately with Mr Shkreli I cannot find anything to like about him at all. Nothing! The only thing I can think of is that he seems to exist to make everyone else look good in comparison.

However, don’t let him ruin Christmas. Let's remind ourselves of some of the great things that capitalism and industrialists have done for mankind. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg have donated billions in philanthropic ventures for the good of humanity. Remember: they are standing on the shoulders of early industrial philanthropic giants - Andrew Carnegie, Elizabeth Cadbury, William Lever. The desire to do good, to be good and to act well will always overcome.

Finally, because it's that time of the year, let's remember one of the world's most famous SME business owners, Scrooge. A notoriously mean skinflint who after being reminded of how kind he used to be, finally had an epiphany and changed his ways; he even ended up sponsoring his employee's  family Christmas. 

In the words of Dickens: 

"Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning with joy and love in his heart".

I hope you do too. Merry Christmas! 

Norma Warwick-Smith is Senior Consultant, Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences at Interim Partners.

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