The Unethical Face Of Martin Shkreli


The face above belongs to Martin Shkreli, who was subpoenaed to testify before Congress over  last September’s decision as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals to raise the price for Daraprim, an antiparasitic commonly used to treat HIV patients, from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Shkreli bought the 60-year-old drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and swiftly raised its price. Three months later he stepped down from that position in December following his arrest on securities fraud charges. He is now free  on $5 million bail.

He is probably the less able to justify that face above, which he displayed to the elected representatives of the United States of America  on earth while refusing to testify, repeatedly citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Nobody could justify that face, of course; not a ten year old brat, and definitely not a greedy, narcissist corporate executive and predator. In a setting where he should be humble and remorseful, he was defiant and disrespectful. The face is an affront to the entire nation and everyone in it.

“I call this money blood money … coming out of the pockets of hardworking Americans,” an enraged Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said, as Shkreli smirked. “I know you are smiling, but I am very serious, sir. I truly believe you can become a force of tremendous good. All I ask is that you reflect on it. No, I don’t ask, I beg that you reflect on it. “

Fat chance. After he was dismissed in disgust by the committee, Shkreli tweeted,

“Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.”

The man is a fick,* of course, but not just any  fick. He is a master fick, a super fick, the fick of ficks.

And he has the most unethical face there can be. Such a face longs for the treatment administered by the Duke, in the immortal moment from “McClintock!” I never tire of viewing:


*Named for the horrible Leroy Fick, fick is the ethics alarms term for someone who is openly and outrageously unethical and completely without shame about it.


Sources: USA Today, QZ, LA Times,

50 thoughts on “The Unethical Face Of Martin Shkreli

  1. This low-life has provided nothing but ammunition against the next evil – “Big Pharm.” Now that “Big Oil” is 30 bucks a barrel they are off the reservation as a target for Bernie and Hillary. I may have issues with “Big (fill in the blank),” but what I fear even more is “Big Government.”

  2. A plague on both their houses. The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated and monitored, so what Shkreli did, and why he could get away with it, are well known to anybody who was paying attention. He couldn’t tell the Committee anything that medical economists wouldn’t be happy to explain at great length. But the committee members wanted a chance to prove they could be tough on an obvious bad guy, so they staged a little show trial. And a show is what they got.

    • Agreed. The pharmaceutical industry HAS to be fixed (starting with the FDA) and an idiot like him is going to make the current system even more entrenched.

  3. Considering the current batch of elected representatives – especially the GOP it’s not wonder his is laughing. For all that he has done – the sponsors of these elected official have done far far worse.

    • Gratuitous partisan bias, and not welcome here. Your next comment better be substantive and not this kind of junk, or it won’t get posted, understand? I don’t tolerate that. Read the comment guidelines.

  4. That face is the one all teachers see when they need to deal with an entitled little proto criminal, but they can’t because all avenues that would provide appropriate consequences are blocked. The students know this. The flicks among them have that exact look on their faces. Only time and/or luck will wipe it off. The fick will never recognize that the consequences, if they ever come, are consequences they themselves earned.

    • I want to start slapping this face myself.

      Obviously his parents never taught him that “sassy isn’t pretty.” Of course, he isn’t a girl. What’s the male equivalent in little-kid terms? We can’t call little boys jackasses.

      • I don’t think he was sassy, I think he was just smugly arrogant? Quite content with thinking that decorum is irrelevant because he knows how to play the system. (Well the system he plays in and thinks the same rules apply everywhere – but they don’t, and certainly not before an elected body)

      • Hard to put it in little kid terms. You can tell a teenage boy that showboating or bad-boy behavior or Hollywood jerk behavior is not going to get him anywhere. Not sure how to take it down the next level. BTW, whoever said sassy isn’t pretty? It seems like all they want little girls to be now is sassy – overconfident, defiant, quick with a sarcastic quip or comeback, etc.

      • As much as we don’t like the dickesh move of jacking up prices and how ever smug this guy is about it, how exactly is it Congress’s business how much a company charges for its products?

        Not to rant about excessive regulations and government interference leading to exactly this problem and the lack of a freer market to naturally force prices down and quality up….I’ll leave it at that.

        • A business has a responsibility to their shareholders but also one to the customers. This was just taking advantage of a unique situation that existed in a very small market niche. This went beyond price gouging.

            • The drug has been in use since 1953 and has no generic version since the patent has long expired. What Martin Shkreli did was raise a price from $13 to $750 a pill for no other reason than to simply screw patients that were dependent upon it. There was absolutely no reason for such an increase except to gouge.

              The deal itself was Turning taking control of Impax and part of the deal was restrictive use of distribution. This was not a new drug that a company wished to recoup development costs and one can see a modest price increase, but this?

              Shkreli has an illustrious history of shady dealings and if Sanders or Hillary wishes to mention any rot in capitalism they can use him as the poster child. Shkreli’s problem is he got caught in a securities violation simply because he was not as smart as he thought he was.

              • The patent is long expired and there are no generics? Now, why would that be?

                Could it be that government regulations are somehow impeding the entrance of competition in the market?

                Or, at $300 per pill, competition would find it beneficial to get into the market if the price is too high.


                • Give it up. There just aren’t enough people who need the drug to make it a good investment. This is a classic case where Big Pharma needs corporate responsibility to avoid being squashed by Big Government—and to do the right thing. Make unprofitable drugs a few people need, and make it a cost of doing business.

                  • And if big pharmaceutical only exists because of big government?

                    I hate being the one having to take this side of the discussion but I do get tired of our society planting fields fertile for creating problems and then complaining when a crop of problems grows in that field.

                    And instead of seeking solutions that free, we seek solution that ultimately are akin the sources of the problem itself.

                    I understand Jeremiah’s frustrations.

                • There is (at least) one significant FDA regulation involved. His company put the drug through trial to prove it was safe and effective. Any possible generic manufacturer would have to spend upwards of $2 million to do likewise.

                  OTOH, the base chemical was still readily available, and any compounding pharmacist could make and sell it to you for much much less than $750 per pill. Some hospitals apparently make it in house.

                  I pulled most of this from

              • “What Martin Shkreli did was raise a price from $13 to $750 a pill for no other reason than to simply screw patients that were dependent upon it. There was absolutely no reason for such an increase except to gouge.”

                Nonsense. I highly doubt his driving factor was to screw anyone. His driving factor was to make a huge return on investment to line his pockets and his investors pockets.

                The fact that he didn’t think at ALL about the end user (to avoid screwing or to directly and actively screw) is concerning, yes, but to do so? I doubt it.

                The patent expired? Well there’s some sort of protective construct keeping competitors from coming into the market and sure isn’t going to be a contract between two parties doing so. What protective construct, I wonder?

                “Shkreli has an illustrious history of shady dealings and if Sanders or Hillary wishes to mention any rot in capitalism they can use him as the poster child”

                Only so long as we keep people ignorant of what free market capitalism means and keep them ignorant to the fact that our nation is actually not organized around free market capitalism anymore…in fact leans far more closely to government backed oligarchy (and only a few qualifying characteristics away from fascism).

                “Shkreli’s problem is he got caught in a securities violation simply because he was not as smart as he thought he was”

                Wait, what?

                Is the issue the price gouging or is the issue the possible securities fraud? If it’s the securities fraud and this whole gouging thing is ultimately just ick factor, then aren’t we playing a silly al Capone end run to get this guy on something we find unethical or distasteful but legal by going after something else?

                • Your response is certainly amazing. The fact is his greed did screw patients. Simple as that.

                  Securities fraud is what nailed him and his gouging certainly didn’t win any sympathy.

                  • Good, so you’ve backtracked off of your assertion that his driving objective was to screw people and have acknowledged that it was a side effect of his greed. So my response, far from being “amazing” (in the sense you used it) was actually correct and effective.



                    If he’s committed securities fraud, bust him for it.

                    If he’s gamed the system in an unethical way that harms other people, but currently there is no law stopping him or other market force able to stop him. Then fix the system by either making a new law (not sure that’s the best option) or figuring out why the current system as it is set up encourages and protects such conduct…

                    • Good, so congress plans on hauling a wide range of pharmaceutical executives before the hearings to discern their practices and how the legal system is inefficient and permits unethical conduct also?

                      I can’t wait!

                      Or is this actually just a “let’s all hate on Martin Shkreli” fest?

                    • I think I just agreed with your assertion that these are useful (well could be useful) hearings. I merely caveated that I hope they do it right.

                      But right now? Looks like just a “let’s hate on this smug arrogant kid for a little while” festival…

                    • They did bust him for securities fraud. That is why he was arrested last year.

                      Backtrack? Are you serious? This guy knew the outcome of what would happen on a personal level. He’s been involved in Pharm for years. And, yes, he knew damn well he would screw people and make a pile of dough doing it.

              • Well, if it is unethical for him to raise the price this high (how high is too high?), is it also unethical for him simply to discontinue production? That too would victimize and kill people.

                • Yes, the objection is troublesome.

                  Where do you draw the line between obligation and nature?

                  Technically, it’s the disease (nature) that is killing a person. Man has managed to create a solution to stave of death for a modicum of time longer. Of course, man’s efforts for creating said solution, which brings value to the community, would never have occurred AT ALL if the creating man hadn’t been motivated both by a community motive AND a profit motive.

                  There may be truly altruistic people out there that create solutions without the profit motive. But at some point, the creative man needs to eat also, and being brilliant, probably doesn’t want to eat crap…so he enjoys the profit motive as well.

                  So…that leads us to this conundrum…the inheritor of the solution that brings value to the community. Is he unethical if he raises the price even a little bit, if that little bit reduces even ONE sick person’s access to the medication?

                  What if the medication, at it’s acquisition price was completely in the red? Is the new owner OBLIGATED to keep operating that medication in the red because to get it out of the loss zone might reduce some people’s access to it?

                  Certainly there is a continuum here, where at one end, you have 0 profit, and the drug is bare bones expensive, and, let’s say 99% of ailing people are able to afford it easily. Then at the far end of the continuum, you max out profit like crazy, to the point where, though you’ve minimized the qty of ailing people who can afford it, let’s say to 60%, they are still able and willing to spend enough on it, to make overall profit, the highest it can be.

                  Now, on that continuum, the seller, at 0 profit, pretty much can’t do ANYTHING with that product…can’t invest in researching improvements, can’t invest in more efficient production, can’t invest in anything, LET ALONE the ability to pocket any of the profit for himself…that is to say, not only is he unable to improve the product, he can’t even live his own life.

                  At the other end of the continuum, the producer can live in a 8,000 SQ FT mansion, own a yacht, go on vacations monthly, and invest heavily in improving the product.

                  So…where’s the happy middle?

                  Do we accept the producer making enough profit to reinvest in the product, though it may reduce those who can afford the product from 99% to 85%? But the producer pockets nothing for himself?

                  Do we accept the producer making enough profit to reinvest and to live comfortably, though it may reduce the 85% to 77%?

                  Where’s the happy middle where we accept that some people can’t afford what they want while we are still able to allow others to produce?

                  It’s hard in this abstract, because nature is killing the people, not the person who can’t ensure that everyone gets the medication while still producing the medication for those he can get to. Now, in the less abstract, certainly we can condemn Shkreli because of just how much he’s put his own personal profits ahead of providing maximum value.

                  But the real question is who gets to decide that?

                  In a free market, it solves itself…

                  In this market, the one we have now…full of protectionism and regulation? The problems almost inevitably are encouraged. And somehow, I don’t think more regulation will solve the problem…

        • I have no problem with Congress having hearings. In this case, the public wanted hearings. It’s predatory pricing, and related to the anti-trust area: if corporations have a monopoly on a product that certain people can’t live without and won’t act with any public interest in mind, then the government might have to get involved. I bet the other drug companies hate this jerk. Jumping an established price that much over-night without warning? Irresponsible; forget about greedy. The market doesn’t work in this situation: no options for the consumer, no possibility of eschewing the product completely, one supplier, small market.

          • If the public wanted hearings into Ethics Alarms does that make it right to do so?

            Why does Shkreli’s corporation and any in the industry have a monopoly? (Natural monopolies ordinarily don’t get away with what Shkreli did without giving birth to a dozen competitors…only monopolies with some ultimate backing of a legal construct seem to get away with this)

            You can’t say “the market doesn’t work in this situation”. There is no “market” in this situation.

            • 1. If the public wanted hearings into Ethics Alarms does that make it right to do so? Sure. I wish.
              2. His company has a patent on a drug that nobody else can make, and the market is too small to make competition worth the cost or trouble.
              3. There is no “market” in this situation. The market is the sick people who need the drug to live. Why don’t you think that’s a market?

              • 2) Is the patent expired or in effect still? I’m getting two different pieces of info on this…

                3) That would certainly be the demand. But a market (a shorthand term typically used when discussing a free market) sort of has competitors and not so much regulation and interference in it. So no, it isn’t really a market. It’s a monopoly ultimately able to operate because of unnatural constructs.

  5. Remember when your mama warned you that your face would freeze like that? I can see the frost glazing over it now. Can you imagine what the response will be when* he presents it to a prison population?


  6. Too bad “fick” has already become part of the lexicon. There’s no room left for calling this guy a “begala.” Dang nab it.

  7. Wealth and success can be very effective alarm blockers. Sure, I acted badly, but it’s not illegal, these idiots in Congress can’t lay a glove on me, and my bank balance is equal to any three of theirs. I don’t have to care.

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