Drug firms need to explain the prices

The Boston Globe
Drug firms need to explain the prices
By Ed Silverman
September 29, 2015
View Online

Like it or not, Martin Shkreli is the new face of pharma. And for an industry already struggling with an image problem over the rising costs of prescription drugs, companies are going to have a hard time distancing themselves from one of the most controversial men in America.

The reason is a lack of transparency. Drug makers do not really want to explain how medicines are priced and, as a result, they have adopted an air of secrecy in which one cowboy can create havoc for an entire industry.

Shkreli, responding to criticisms on social media, then unleashed a defiant stream of mocking insults that sparked the equivalent of an Internet lynch mob. This made it easy for the pharmaceutical industry’s main US trade group to argue — albeit, tepidly — that Shkreli was an outlier whose behavior did not reflect the way global drug makers conduct business. The leading biotechnology trade group, meanwhile, kicked Shkreli out of its club.

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