Embattled Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli Resigns

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

turing-pharma-logoFollowing his arrest this week for alleged securities fraud, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli resigned his office.

Turing garnered infamy for the 5000 percent price increase of Daraprim, a $13.50 medication indicated for patients requiring treatment of Toxoplasma gondii–an opportunistic pathogen afflicting the immune-compromised such as AIDS patients. Monthly treatment cost now associated with the drug can be upwards of seventy-five thousand dollars. See previous articles HERE and HERE.

Interim CEO Ron Tiles thanked the 32-year-old for “helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research-focused company it is today.”


 

Turing Pharmaceuticals issued a press release which reads in part:

Zug, Switzerland, December 18, 2015 — Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative treatments for serious diseases and conditions, today announced the resignation of Martin Shkreli from the position of Chief Executive Officer and the appointment of Ron Tilles to the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Tilles will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He said, “We wish to thank Martin for helping us build Turing Pharmaceuticals into the dynamic research focused company it is today, and wish him the best in his future endeavors. At the same time, I am very excited about the opportunity to guide Turing Pharmaceuticals forward. We remain committed to ensuring that all patients have ready and affordable access to Daraprim and Vecamyl. Research Development on new medications continues to be a priority for the company. With the dynamic leadership of Eliseo Salinas as head of Research and Development and Nancy Retzlaff as head of Commercial Operations, Turing Pharmaceuticals is poised for great success in the coming years.”

I find it interesting that this press release mentioned Daraprim and how it is coupled with all patients having affordable access. It seems rather certain that Turing is responding to the pariah reputation it has earned as a result of the price increases but hedged its bets by focusing on patients and not insurance providers and institutions, which have been under Shkreli made a target of high pricing. It will certainly remain to be seen what happens in practice, especially in light of the cash cow it now can still milk.

Turing will have a serious PR problem to contend with despite the resignation of its flamboyant and extravagant CEO. It could establish some goodwill with some reasonableness.

Depending on single streams of revenue can be problematic, especially when science discovers alternate drug treatment regimes and large insurers update their formularies. There are many forms of justice, my friends.

By Darren Smith

Source:

Deutsche Welle
Turing Pharmaceuticals, Press Release

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

121 thoughts on “Embattled Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli Resigns”

  1. Is socialism and white privilege off topic here?.
    Amherst: D’Souza DESTROYS Leftist College Students Arguments

  2. Are there any Canucks on the blog here who came to the U.S. from Canada to seek better health care. Someone above said that they “flood” down here to avoid the Canada system. Tell us what is wrong up there or what that system won’t treat. Is it stuff like cosmetic surgery they wont do up there?

  3. Going around in circles here. The reasons Medicare is not doing well financially have already been discussed several times on this topic alone and multiple times on the board. There are no negotiated drug prices; enforcement and fraud investigation is severely underfunded; there are no limits or repercussions for over-testing, over-treating or unnecessary procedures; and so on.

    Private insurance is no bargain either. It is 50-state mayhem, each state has its own rules and most states are horrible little bureaucracies full of nepotism, cronyism and outright bribery. There is no uniform rule from company to company regarding reimbursement, what information is required and how to get through the appeals process. Small practitioners sell out to large practices just for the economy of scale of the billing process. And the rules change every year, so whatever you learned last year about getting reimbursed by Aetna, forget it for next year. Insurance companies in this system had the right in several states to drop you from their coverage for any reason or for no reason. Denial of initial coverage for pre-existing conditions,,,,remember all that? That’s what you get in the “free market” of fifty states, fifty rules.

    The worst of it is that “nobody pays”. The patient almost never pays the premium or the bill, and has no idea what anything costs; the insurer never questions the charge (until recently), because they pass on the charges to the actual payer–the employers. Employers (used to) pass on the costs to their customers in higher prices, until insurance rates got so high they couldn’t do it any more. That is how we got into this mess, not Medicare or Medicaid.

  4. Karen

    Your arguments concerning VA and fraud are like abandoning a car because of a flat tire. Fraud is everywhere but most predominantly in the closed monopoly that is the private insurance system and the free for all hospital and practitioner fields. Designing a basic single payer system will not solve all problems and satisfy everyone. There is no silver bullet. However, when multiple countries seem to arrive at the same solution, a solution that is fine tuned to be ‘fixed’ where it is found to be wanting, be that augmenting or increasing, then the US, the only country that allows its citizens to be practiced on by the private parasitical health insurance industry should be taking a look.

    The main problem is the bipolar aspect of the American psyche. Government is bad. The private sector is the answer. When the private sector is responsible for the fraud it is always the government’s fault, cuz they is us and we got took. It is the private sector that is the culprit, not the government. There are over two hundred years of examples where the government has fixed itself.

    The model that seems to be working in more developed countries is the one where there is a base system that insures that no one will lose their house and equity if they get sick, injured, or whatever, that is mandatory and dealt with as are taxes. The opportunity also exists for the individual or family to add the ‘cadillac’ level of insurance privately.

    Of course there are instances where any system fails, however, the fewer failures are found in the systems found, not in the US, but in Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, etc.

    The only argument that has surfaced by those who seem to think that the next step after single payer health care insurance is death, is the one that uses the analogy that if the car has a flat tire then it must be a crappy car.

    None of these other developed nations has any desire to return to the last system of its kind in the World, that which is found in the US. However, most Americans would prefer a basic single payer system. If the US was not an oligarchy, Americans might be enjoying the best health care in the world at half the cost.

  5. We would have to replace our entire criminal ‘government’ with average people for anything the government administrates to actually be good for the people. Let’s face facts here, shall we?

  6. True story: The mother of a former employer is an M.D. in Canada. She’s looking forward to moving to the U.S. as she tired of having her $150k to $200k (as Isaac states) salary cut in half to pay taxes. She was visiting once and I had the chance to see first hand the large volume of paperwork required for her to file taxes for her medical practice. Yes, she brought it with her on ‘vacation’ and was complaining about it. At least for her, it wasn’t the nirvana described by Isaac.

  7. Isaac:

    “My sister in law had breast cancer. It is in remission. She sat down with eleven oncologists who laid out her options regarding chemical, drug, and surgery. I have never heard of this happening in the US.” Yes. It’s called a board. Challenging cases get presented to the board for recommendations. The patient is also free to seek 2nd, third, or thirtieth opinions.

    Over 20% of the people in the UK pay for some form of private insurance, which does not include those who pay out of pocket for better medical care. Obviously that’s not the majority, because the majority of people cannot afford confiscatory taxes AND pay for private health insurance or just pay out of pocket. To say otherwise would be in imply that the majority of the population somehow simultaneously pays huge taxes and are still rich.

    You seem to be deliberately ignoring what the US did with its one and only single payor system: the VA. People died because of fraud, and there was no accountability. The people who engaged in fraud, which KILLED people, still have jobs and are still getting paid by us, the taxpayer. In fact, they got bonuses.

    Medicare, as you know, is not a single payor system. And it’s currently running out of money.

    For the sake of argument, however, let’s ignore these statistical facts, and focus on the following:

    What is your response to the concern that our government mishandled to the point that PEOPLE DIED, a single payor system, and yet you feel confident putting us all on a single payor system and expect a different result? What is your response to the lack of accountability that allows the people responsible to still be employed, and get bonuses? If your doctor, through deliberate fraud, caused the death of your loved one, how would you feel if he was allowed to continue to practice medicine, and in fact got a bonus? Because that’s what basically happened – those government employees are still working in the VA. So your response is to give them more scope? Hey, let’s allow them to handle the medical care for all the kids in the US! What a great idea!

  8. Tom Nash

    As successfully exists in Canada and in other Western Nations, Medicare only for all is not the model. The model is a single payer system that can be likened to Medicare but, as with the Canadian model, changes with the political weather expressing the national temperament. Along with this is the option to supplement insurance privately and as well, to pay directly to private clinics for procedures that one wants immediately, regardless of the reason. No one is placed in danger by waiting. The single payers system prioritizes procedures based on the condition of the individual. A case in point-my Mom used to swim several times a week in a local pool close by that had filtered water with no chlorine; she was in her eighties. The pool filtering system broke down and she had to drive across town to continue swimming in a pool that chlorinated the water. She had a mildly advancing case of cataracts that did not bother her until she had to swim in the chlorinated water and drive a half hour back. The doctor under the provincial plan prioritized her for a three to four month wait as the cataracts were not ‘ripe’ enough for removal. If she had bugged him she could have reduced the wait to a couple of months. She opted to have them out in a day’s wait for $2,500 at a private clinic. Even though this was six years ago, this is a price unheard of in the US. BC Med reimbursed her for what they priced it as, $1,300. So, she paid $1,200 out of pocket that was tax deductible which ended up costing her $800. This amount is more than absorbed between the difference between her premiums in BC compared to what they would have been in the US. She had access to the best of both worlds: wait two months for free or pay $800 to get it done the next day. She also had the option, that she did not take, to have a supplementary private insurance policy that would have paid the total cost difference between BC Med and the private clinic.

    The systems in place in the more advanced nations make sure the individual is covered for the basics and emergencies. No one goes bankrupt. No one is refused. The second tier or private layer is also available. The average cost to a Canadian is half what it is to an American, no matter how you cut it.

    1. Isaac…..I think that we agree that expanding Medicare for all is not the answer. The fact that we agree on something causes me great concern.😉
      Anyway, expanding a troubled, financially stressed program from 50 million on Medicare to over 300 million would, in my opinion, just magnify the health care problem in the U.S.
      The original, good faith efforts by the CBO 50 years ago to estimate future Medicare costs proved to vastly underestimate the real costs that materialized. Obviously
      the CBO could not be expected to anticipate somee periods of high general inflation. But even adjusting for inflation, costs of the program skyrocketed.
      Wilbur Mills, the influential Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, actually foresaw budget busting cost overruns in the MC program. As with others, LBJ “turned him around” and Mills ultimately supported Medicare passage.
      Given where we are at now, I don’t see any easy way out. Any more than there is an easy way to deal with the huge U.S. debt that’s been accumulated in recent years. 50+ years of “slop”; I.e., inefficiencies, cost overruns, etc. in the MC program can not be erased.
      That ship has sailed, and we’re stuck with the past cost. I don’t know if any politician will present any healthcare reform proposals with that caveat. To get elected, you have Trump’s promise that he’ll replace Obamacare with ” something really really good” that Americans will “really really be happy with”.: That’s not exactly specific policy proposal.
      Or ” families will save $2500 per year” or”no mandate” or “If you like your insurance, you can keep it”. Anyone who believes/believed Trump or Obama promises simply swallowed what they wanted to hear.
      I personally favor a strong emphasis on Health Savings Accounts, coupled with catastrophic coverage. We’ve been moving away from HSAs, not toward them.
      But any REALISTIC proposal from any candidate is not likely to be forthcoming. That would involve an upfront admission that there is no easy way out at this point, and probably losing in an election?

  9. Some irrefutable facts:

    We all end up paying for the health care of all of us. Whether someone gets it for free or someone pays cash, or someone has insurance, the costs are absorbed by those who pay, however they pay.

    We pay twice for the same treatment.

    The single payer system takes the insurance profit and redundant work force out of the equation thus lowering costs.

    The government administered insurance programs pays a base rate for procedures that all hospitals and doctors, as well as administrators develop. There are no poor doctors in Canada. A doctor in Canada enjoys an income between $150k and $200+k a year. The equipment in Canadian hospitals is utilized from 70% to 90% of the time, not 30% to 35% of the time as in the ‘competing’ US hospitals.

    Statistics have been cherry picked to the advantage of both arguments but overwhelming response from Canadians is in favor of the two tier system Canadians enjoy. 11% is not a majority. There are always dark spots on any system. I am personally intimate with BC Med and several dozen family members and friends. I have yet to hear of any ‘horror’ story and no one that I know of has left the country to obtain treatment from basic stuff up and including cancer. The stories I hear are of treatment for the basics that is unheard of in the run em in and run em out system in the US. Doctors determine the hospital stays, not the insurance company. Karen your arguments are the same old bits a pieces that are trundled out every time the argument comes up.

    I have a friend who is French, a millionaire, and had rotator cuff surgery in Paris through the national system. He has dual nationality and could have had it done in the US but chose France.

    My sister in law had breast cancer. It is in remission. She sat down with eleven oncologists who laid out her options regarding chemical, drug, and surgery. I have never heard of this happening in the US.

    MY Dad had a minor stroke at 85. He was taken directly to emergency and when the doctor was through with all the tests he told us that it was actually good as they would now monitor him monthly, blood etc. After ten days in the hospital I called the doctor and asked him why my Dad was still in the hospital if this was such a minor thing. The doctor said, “Your father was a little shook up and is settling in. When he starts to be a nuisance, we’ll toss him out.” I have yet to hear of any one taken care of that well in the US. He would have been tossed out in a day or two.

    I could go on and on but the only thing that comes to mind is would be a waste of time. Pearls before swine.

    The two tier system allows individuals to seek private health care and be reimbursed for the government amount, which runs typically from 70% to 80% of the private costs. The remainder is tax deductible. This private care cost is still roughly half of similar treatment in the US.

    As the numbers laid out by Karen illustrate a very few Canadians leave Canada for medical care, even though if they can’t get their doctor’s suggested care in Canada their provincial medical plan will pay for them to seek it elsewhere. The fact of the matter is that proportionally, more Americans come to Canada and other countries than the other way around.

    The horror stories to be found in the US where money equates coverage vastly out strip any that are to be found in Canada, France, Great Britain, etc.

    The voters get to determine the extent of health care coverage in Canada, France, Great Britain, etc. Politicians and political parties win and lose elections with health care as the pivotal issue. That is to say when the voters want better health care, they vote it in along with the increased costs. In the US, an oligarchy, not a democracy, the voters have next to nothing to say. The candidates are in the pockets of the health care industry and the pharmaceutical industry. The special interests control the candidates up until and including when they are elected. They stay in power if they go along with those that fund their campaigns.

    In the US health care costs rise due to corporate greed and not citizen input. That alone is reason enough to include health care directly as a democratic exercise, with absolutely no input from the private sector, those that buy and sell politicians, order surveys and reviews that argue their position, kind of like those that dupe the fools that don’t believe in global warming and mankind’s involvement in that.

    95% of the facts point to cheaper and better health care through government administered programs. 5% of the facts point to the present US system. Kind of makes one wonder who follows the 5%.

    These are just some irrefutable facts.

    1. Isaac…..At the risk of asking you to cast your “pearls before swine”, do you think that Medicare for all is the answer?

    1. And families will save $2500 a year in health care costs. I’m still waiting for my $2500.

  10. I like the idea of putting healthcare on the ballot. A large majority of Americans favored the so-called public option when the program was being formed, but the insurance and pharma lobbies got it shot down (yes, through Democrats). Let’s put Medicare for all on the ballot and see what happens.

    While we’re at it, let’s put the farm bill, the highway bill, benefits for veterans and military spending on the ballot. How do you think that would go?

    R’s in Congress seems to love war and love soldiers, but they hate paying for war and they despise veterans. I wonder why that is.

    We rank about 19th in the world for our health and healthcare. But ignoramuses keep squawking that we have the best healthcare in the world. We do not.

    1. Philly T……The Medicare system has been propped up by a combination of higher premiums, much higher payroll taxes, reduced coverage, higher deductibles and copays, and larger and large federal subsidies.( I think about 50% of MC funding comes from “general revenues”, in spite of the factors I mentioned above).
      I can’t see that enrolling the rest of our population in the Medicare Plantation will solve the systemic problems in that system.

  11. I desperately want the takers of this country, if they want “free” healthcare, to submit to VA. I support that. I simply ask to be allowed to keep what I have. Something I was promised by our Liar In Chief. “If you like your healthcare, you can keep your healthcare.” We all know Canadians FLOOD to the US to get GREAT healthcare instead of their “free” bad healthcare. I DO NOT WANT A GOVT. DOCTOR. I DO NOT WANT GOVT. HEALTHCARE.

  12. Good morning Karen. You mean healthcare focusing on health? You’re mad!! If physicians could only get paid by keeping patients healthy…. But they have a vested interest in keeping people sick and they’re doing a helluva job. I worked for an English woman who’s mother came here to have some minor surgery on her toe (which was giving her great pain) because she got tired of waiting for her glorious socialized medical care.

    I’m with you 100%. Keep the government out of my orifices. Unless I have total freedom to choose what kind of care I receive (herbs, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, OR allopathic) I don’t want “free” sickness care and don’t want it shoved down my throat. ACA is just another way to surveille and control the apparently out of control populace. it’s a conspiracy theory to think they’re not doing that.

    I read a stat somewhere that proves that we spend the most per capita for so-called health care and have a high infant mortality rate for a supposedly ‘advanced’ society and generally pathetic state of health. Hey we’re #1 in Alzheimer’s disease! Okay…stopping now… Happy Sunday!

  13. Hilde – it would be nice if our health care industry widened its focus from chasing symptoms to overall health and prevention, as well as nutrition and exercise.

  14. “of particular note is the high proportion of the United Kingdom population with some form of privately insured access to health care. In 2003, some 11.2% of the population had PMI cover; adding figures for NIMES would bring the proportion of those with privately insured access to health care to some 12.8% of the population. In addition, some 8.1% of the population has a health cash plan (see the Appendix). (It is not known what proportion of these have a health cash plan in addition to PMI cover, but it will not be all of them, or even necessarily the majority.) The proportion of the population with private cover would no doubt be higher still if self-pay for privately delivered care were not becoming an increasingly attractive option as a result of higher incomes, hospital-offered payment schemes, specialist health care bank loans, and the perceived low value of PMI.”

    Another rising trend is paying out of pocket for better medical care, rather than paying a monthly premium for private insurance.

    So that brings the figure to 20.9%, PLUS those who pay out of pocket. And that’s only those who can afford those exorbitant taxes that pay for socialized medicine, and <then still pay out of pocket for either additional private insurance or just paying out of pocket for better medicine. How many more would do so but can’t afford it because of the high taxes caused by nanny state policies?

    The figures cut the legs out of any argument that socialized medicine is a panacea.

  15. Isaac – actually, many single payor systems in Europe are actually a hybrid with private health insurance or financing.

    http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/98422/Private_Medical_Insurance_UK.pdf

    “These figures show that a substantial proportion of the population (one that is usually ignored in the comparative literature) has some form of privately insured access to health care.” In the UK, demand for private medical insurance rises as wait times increase for NHS, and they fall as people’s income declines or inflation rises.

    So, basically, the worse the national health care and the longer their lines, the greater the demand for private insurance, which only those of means can afford after having been taxed to death to pay for socialized medicine.

    Socialized medicine lowers the bar for everyone, and only the rich can afford the best care.

    Common sense.

  16. Americans are a hugely pathetic lot. I’ve personally worked for two women who absolutely CRAVED tuna while they were pregnant (and breastfeeding) and buy canned tuna by the dozen STILL completely ignoring all warnings about mercury. And these people appear (at least) to have ‘normal intelligence’. Although my current employer says I can have whatever I want in her kitchen, 99.99% of what she has is poison in my book. And what is her opinion? We have a pretty healthy diet! Americans get what they’re asking for (sickness) because they suck up whatever trash ads are on the TV and like lemmings, load up their shopping carts with it. And of course, whatever is good for them is also ‘good’ for the kids! I could go on and on…. okay I’ll stop now.

  17. http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-obama-care/012214-687213-canadians-seek-medical-treatment-outside-the-country.htm

    According to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, as many as 41,838 Canadians — out of a population of about 35 million — left the country last year for health care treatment. More than 42,000 left in 2012, while more than 46,000 sought treatment elsewhere the year before.
    Destinations, according to a University of Minnesota study that looked at Canadian companies that arrange medical tourism, include Costa Rica, India, Thailand and the U.S. Some companies even send clients to Mexico, Turkey, Poland and the Dominican Republic.
    The Fraser Institute of Canada calls the 2013 figure a conservative estimate and, though some will argue otherwise, believes it is a sizable number, one that says something deeply damning about Canadian care.
    “Understanding how many Canadians receive their health care in another country each year gives some insight into the state of health care in Canada,” Nadeem Esmail wrote in the May/June 2013 Fraser Forum.
    “One of the unfortunate realities of Canada’s monopolistic health care system is that some people feel they have no choice but to seek the care they need outside the country,” Esmail and Bacchus Barua wrote in an op-ed published last month in a couple of Canadian newspapers. “And who can blame them?”
    Those who leave Canada for treatment do so for a number of reasons, but they are all related to the country’s government-run health care system.
    Some leave due to Canada’s long and sometimes deadly waiting periods. Others are treated outside the country because there is “a lack of available resources or the fact that some procedures or equipment are not provided in their home jurisdiction,” Esmail and Barua wrote.

    Canada controls costs by limiting supply, especially for elective surgery. And where can you vote with your feet when all healthcare is controlled by the government? There’s no competition. No shopping around. If you have the money, you leave the country. If you don’t, you wait.

  18. NIck

    It took a while but you finally got it. That’s the system used by Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, etc. That’s the system the US can’t get their drum thumping heads around. The basics for the single payer system is there in VA, Medicaid, Medicare, whatever. The states could administer the systems as do the provinces in Canada. Everyone pays in through taxes. If you want more then you pay for more. Government negotiates with Big Pharma for bulk supplies of drugs and the ‘golden rule’ is taken out of the equation. This is how it is done everywhere else and big pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland, Great Britain, France, etc still make out like bandits. Canada can negotiate with US pharmaceutical companies but the US cannot. Well?

    By the way, more Americans go abroad for cheaper basic work than to foreigners come to the US. Those, like the Shah, who come to the US have loads of money and typically it is for one per cent of one per cent of the medical situation found in the general population. The Shah, by the way, died of his ailments despite the higher levels of ‘cutting edge’ medical treatment found in the US. The fact remains that for 99% of medical needs you are better off in any Western nation than in the US. But keep dragging out the anomalies to prove your position on health care for all.

  19. This is the best argument I’ve ever seen against having ANY sickness (health?) care insurance. Let’s just say, many a truth is spoken in jest.

    Critical Care (1997) Trailer

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