Who to Follow for the Real Story on Martin Shkreli
Speaking Out is a new column surveying activism across the web each week.
In a must-read Elle feature that quickly went viral on Twitter, writer Stephanie Clifford tells the story of Christie Smythe, a normal woman who blew up her world for a chance at love with one of the worlds most-hated finance dudes, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. Smythe describes, among many other crazy details, her first kiss with Shrkreli in jail, in a room that smelled like chicken wings.
Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in federal prison in 2018 after his pharmaceutical company acquired the lifesaving drug Daraprim, commonly used in the treatment of AIDS-related illnesses. He then immediately jacked up the price of a single dose from $13.50 to $750. On top of the price gouging, his smirking court appearances and trollish social media presence earned him nearly universal scorn.
Unfortunately, Shrkeli’s price-jacking practices are not all that unusual. In 2016, Mylan Pharmaceuticals faced public furor when they raised the price of a two pack of Epipens—used to save people from deadly allergy attacks—from $100 to $609. In 2015, Bill Ackman’s hedge fund Pershing Square teamed with notorious pharma price gougers Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Ackman eventually sold his shares in Valeant, but not before spending years defending pharmaceutical pricing practices.
A more recent picture of Martin Shkreli.— ALICE 🪓🌹 (@AliceFromQueens) December 21, 2020
*Oops I mean Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, who pulled a Shkreli with the EpiPen but never became a stock villain because she leaned in or something. pic.twitter.com/PuXR5PVqxf
If you were fascinated by the Shrkeli drama, I highly recommend Erin Lee Carr’s episode of the Netflix series Dirty Money, “Drug Short.” She follows Fahmi Quadir, one of the few women in an executive position in the male dominated field of finance, as Quadir unravels the Ackman bet and exposes Valeant’s price-gouging tactics. (For years they had been acquiring smaller pharma companies for their patents on specialty life-saving drugs, hiking up the prices, and reaping the profits at the expense of human lives.)
It all sounds very complicated, but in Carr’s hands it’s an exciting, informative and infuriating episode of television about greed and wealth.
This is mind-boggling stuff. I remember Christie DMed me because of my #dirtymoney open featuring martin shkreli. It felt very much like she was advocating for him and I wondered why. We ended up having an a normal conversation. https://t.co/zvik797826— ELC (@erinleecarr) December 21, 2020
You can also check out Carr on Dax Shepherd’s podcast, Armchair Experts, to hear about Carr’s book and other films.
On the opposite end of the financial spectrum, people are talking about the new stimulus plan that will allow for a one-time payment of $600 to go out to qualifying Americans. The consensus? The amount is not nearly enough.
On CNBC’s Making It, Alicia Adamcyz points out that most college-age dependents are still not eligible to receive the stimulus check, and examines the financial burden that creates.
Like the first round of payments, adult dependents aren't eligible for the $600.— Alicia Adamczyk (@AliciaAdamczyk) December 21, 2020
But this time around, households with individuals of mixed immigration status *do* qualify if someone meets the other requirements https://t.co/K74DTo01Ws
While the amount isn’t plentiful, the memes are.
What $600 stimulus check is looking like vs my bills right now♬ original sound - Finesse Gawds
Dan Price, the CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, who cut his salary so that all his employees could make a minimum annual salary of $70,000, has weighed in throughout the stimulus talks about the nature of PPP Loans and the direct stimulus payments.
A reality show where every member of Congress has all their pay and assets frozen, their taxpayer-funded health care taken away and we give them $600 to live on— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) December 20, 2020
Follow the Leaders
To learn more about financial literacy and topics like fair wages, predatory financial instruments, and the labor movement, here are some suggested follows.
Mary Childs, host of the excellent podcast Planet Money.