Sunday, February 7, 2016

Drug company profiteer Martin Shkreli and a few questions about legitimate rights, duty and morality



“When the ‘most hated man in America’ acquired his latest title, felony suspect, on Thursday, he may have been the only one surprised. The controversial entrepreneur was accused of taking ‘blood money’ from Americans and refused to answer questions. Minutes after being released from the hearing, Shkreli posted on Twitter: ‘Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.’

“The firm Shkreli created and ran until his arrest in December, Turing Pharmaceuticals, is under fire for hiking the price of the drug Daraprim by more than 5,000% overnight, from $13.50 to $750 a pill, after acquiring it from another company. Shkreli had already warned that he intended to invoke the Fifth Amendment and decline to answer questions in order to avoid the risk of incriminating himself. Nonetheless, Shkreli’s short appearance in Washington became explosive when committee members were infuriated by his discourteous facial expressions as the event unfolded. One member begged him to examine his conscience.

“Earlier, Shkreli and Turing’s chief commercial officer, Nancy Retzlaff, were criticized for hiking the price of Daraprim despite the fact it is the only government-approved treatment for the rare infection toxoplasmosis, which can be fatal for some Aids and cancer patients and endangers babies in-utero…” (Analysis Pharmaceutical (and Wu-Tang) villain Martin Shkreli has courted controversy). 


Commentary/Questions:

Are there legitimate rights that “ought to” take precedence in particular circumstances or situations such as in the one described above? How do the words “ought to” entail an obligation for CEOs of pharmaceutical companies? How do the words “ought to” differ from the word, “duty?” Are duties required by conscience or by law? Would we say that the failure of someone who can lower the costs of a life-saving drug for thousands of people when he is knowingly in a position to do so is morally wrong? Do moral rights exist prior to and independent of a government's recognition of them, or when they are made legal? Is Shkreli morally and legally responsible for lowering the costs of Daraprim? How can morality be justified to someone, like Shkreli, who is not moved by moral considerations?



3 comments:

  1. The questions posed are not/should not be limited to this situation but apply to CAPITALISM as a whole!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shkreli is a mere Bernie Madoff. As he becomes the evil distraction, Big Pharma continues the incredible corporate rip-off game that dwarfs when Little Shkreli has done. Michael Moore's "Sicko" is still as accurate as ever. One of today's drug price examples is the morning after pill, Plan B. It has doubled in price since 2014.
    The United States still cannot, by law, bargain for lower drug prices via Medicare or other government programs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed re: pricing rip-off; but given "moral" as the judgment standard, I'd include Plan B, too.

      Delete