Don’t Blame Martin Shkreli. We Made Him This Way.

don't hate martin Shkreli.

Don’t blame Martin Shkreli. That’s just fake outrage you’re feeling anyway. The real problem is something far more dastardly — and even more insiduous.

jason-dias-anewdomainaNewDomain –– Great.  Now everyone hates Martin Shkreli.

He’s the guy who bought the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat parasitic infections.  You’ve probably heard it’s an AIDS medicine and it is, but has much wider application.  He raised the price on this medication by several thousand percent. Someone found out. 

Well, they’d have to find out that their treatment was going from a few hundred dollars to over a hundred thousand. 

Twitter blew up. Fakesbook memes erupted all over.

Now, since the news broke Shkreli has out and said he hears you. He hears the outcry. He will drop the price.

He just hasn’t said by how much.

don't hate martin So what cost is reasonable? Allowable? There are no regulations or laws to cover this.  Anyone can charge whatever they want for their medicines.  hkreli claims it’s necessary. 

And he’s far from the only one doing this. 

Many drugs’ prices are magnifying to cover the costs of research, marketing, distribution.  Well, according to the corporate executives doing media relations.

The other big cost here is profit.

America has a for-profit health care system.  That’s what enables a corporate raider to buy rights to a medicine to begin with, and the reason we really have no legal recourse over price-gouging life-saving treatments.

And think about this, too: we’ve decided to mix religion and for-profit companies. Hobby Lobby gets to make health-care decisions for its employees based on the faith of the owners. 

What’s to stop rich, religious people from buying the rights to medical treatments for conditions they think have their origins in immoral behavior, and then making those treatments unaffordable ordon't hate Martin Shkreli. unavailable?

Shkreli is not alone, and he is far from the worst offender in this system. 

Just as Trump is less an insult to the political system than an indictment of is, Shkreli is a product of his environment. 

He’s the man of the season, perfectly adapted to the time and place in which he finds himself.  Our for-profit medical system is psychopathic, and so is he.

When we mix up our moral system with our financial one, both get, well, mixed up. 

 When we ask people if they like Obamacare, they resounding say no, no way.  When we ask if they like the individual provisions of the Affordable Care Act, they overwhelmingly say yes.  When we ask people what they think of socialism, they get mad at us for bring

ing up Stalinism.  Scoff.  But when we ask if they want more time off work, fair wages, better benefits, social mobility, education…

profits4It wasn’t easy to get the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  It doesn’t go nearly far enough.  The Right poisoned public opinion on the thing, sometimes on moral grounds. 

Ben Carson suggests Obamacare is tantamount to slavery.  The Swastika comes out.  Palin tells us about the “death panels.”  But what are we defending, here?  We’re saying socialized medicine is worse than for-profit medicine.

Doctors Without Borders, a group that serves communities where modern medicine cannot reach because of cost and infrastructure, operates these days within our own borders.  People make their health care decisions based on what they can afford.

Even the research behind our best practice is skewed towards for-profit interests: when schools decide what to study in their medical departments, money talks, and fraud is rampant in our medical journals.

In this system, we get fad diets rather than nutrition. 

We get body-building gyms full of steroid robots rather than environments conducive to healthy lifestyles.  We get open-heart surgery rather than balloon angioplasty, boner pills rather than cancer treatments, psychotropic medication designed to treat the symptoms of mental illnesses rather than psychotherapies designed to help people resolve their issues.

This psychopathic, amoral system is the problem. Everything else is just fake outrage.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

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About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He's a senior columnist at aNewDomain.