Price goug­ing on drugs? Shkre­li's ju­ry se­lec­tion process re­veals some deep pub­lic anger

If the US ever does pass laws pro­hibit­ing price goug­ing on drugs, phar­ma ex­ecs would be well ad­vised to avoid any test­ing of the bound­aries. There’s clear­ly a large seg­ment of the pub­lic that’s ready to jail any­one who jacks up the price of a des­per­ate­ly need­ed treat­ment.

Harp­er’s mag­a­zine helped il­lus­trate that point when they ran ex­cerpts from the com­ments made by po­ten­tial ju­rors in the Mar­tin Shkre­li case. Shkre­li is no­to­ri­ous for rais­ing the price of Dara­prim by more than 5000%, and some of the prospec­tive ju­rors were clear­ly ready to send him right be­hind bars — with­out any need for a tri­al.

Iron­i­cal­ly, Shkre­li was nev­er charged with any­thing re­lat­ed to pric­ing, be­cause there are no re­stric­tions in the law on what you charge for a drug. What he was charged with, and re­cent­ly found guilty on three counts, was fraud re­lat­ed to ly­ing to his hedge fund in­vestors. He’ll be sen­tenced lat­er this year. But here’s what some mem­bers of the pub­lic had to say as they rel­ished the idea of lock­ing him up and throw­ing away the key.

I boiled the re­marks down to a litany of curs­es.

JU­ROR NO. 1: I think he’s a greedy lit­tle man.

JU­ROR NO. 25: This is the price-goug­ing, right, of drugs?

JU­ROR NO. 40: I’m tak­ing pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion. I would be up­set if it went up by a thou­sand per­cent. I saw the tes­ti­mo­ny on TV to Con­gress and I saw his face on the news last night. By the time I came in and sat down and he turned around, I felt im­me­di­ate­ly I was bi­ased.

JU­ROR NO. 47: He’s the most hat­ed man in Amer­i­ca. In my opin­ion, he equates with Bernie Mad­off with the drugs for preg­nant women go­ing from $15 to $750. My par­ents are in their eight­ies. They’re strug­gling to pay for their med­ica­tion. My moth­er was telling me yes­ter­day how my fa­ther’s can­cer drug is $9,000 a month.

JU­ROR NO. 52: When I walked in here to­day I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not know­ing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.

JU­ROR NO. 67: The fact that he raised the price of that AIDS med­ica­tion, like, such an amount of mon­ey dis­gusts me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to for­get that. Who does that, puts prof­it and self-in­ter­est ahead of any­thing else? So it’s not a far stretch that he could do what he’s ac­cused of.

JU­ROR NO. 70: I have to­tal dis­dain for the man.

JU­ROR NO. 77: From every­thing I’ve seen on the news, every­thing I’ve read, I be­lieve the de­fen­dant is the face of cor­po­rate greed in Amer­i­ca.

JU­ROR NO. 125: I’ve read ex­ten­sive­ly about Mar­tin’s shame­ful past and his rip­ping off sick peo­ple and it hits close to me. I have a moth­er with epilep­sy, a grand­moth­er with Alzheimer’s, and a broth­er with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. I think some­body that’s dealt in those things de­serves to go to jail.

JU­ROR NO. 155: I have read a lot of ar­ti­cles about the case. I think he is as guilty as they come.

JU­ROR NO. 28: I don’t like this per­son at all. I just can’t un­der­stand why he would be so stu­pid as to take an an­tibi­ot­ic which H.I.V. peo­ple need and jack it up five thou­sand per­cent. I would hon­est­ly, like, se­ri­ous­ly like to go over there —

THE COURT: Sir, thank you.

JU­ROR NO. 28: Is he stu­pid or greedy? I can’t un­der­stand.


Im­age: Get­ty

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

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Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

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Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

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Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

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The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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In JAVELIN Bladder 100, Bavencio led to a 31% reduction in risk of death compared to standard care alone. It also extended median survival by more than seven months — a historic feat in this setting, according to investigators at Queen Mary University of London.

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Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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