A US punk label has severed ties with one of its key investors, after it discovered that he’d basically been getting rich by ripping off AIDS patients.
Martin Shkreli, the douchebag in question, was a silent partner at Collect Records when he set up a pharmaceutical company called Turing, which he then used to buy the rights to Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug used for treating people with weakened immune systems, like AIDS sufferers.
As The New York Times reported earlier this week, Turing bought the rights to the drug, and then swiftly jacked up the price by 5,000%.
And no, that’s not a typo. FIVE. THOUSAND. PER. CENT. Meaning the cost of one tablet skyrocketed from $13.50 to $750, catapulting the annual price tag of treatment for some patients into the hundreds of thousands, and essentially holding their very lives to an incredibly pricey ransom.
So anyways, Collect Records has now ended its involvement with old mate Shkreli, after individual bands on its roster, such as Nothing and Sick Feeling, threatened to walk if he continued his involvement.
Label head Geoff Rickly, whom you might also know as the singer of No Devotion (the group he formed with the former non-Ian Watkins members of Lostprophets) said in a statement (via The Guardian):
Today, Collect Records — with the support and encouragement of all of our artists — have agreed to fully sever our relationship with Martin Shkreli, effective immediately.
When I decided to get into business with Martin, we took him on as a patron. He was completely silent and allowed us to do business as we pleased. His only ask was that we sign bands that we believed could make great art given the right environment and not to focus on a profit, no matter how dire the bottom line.
Never in a million years did any of us expect to wake up to the news of the scandal that he is now involved in. It blindsided and upset us on every level. As such, we know it is impossible for us to continue having any ties with him.
For my part, I’ve always strived to make Collect a place that was so liberal, encouraging, and artist-friendly that no one would ever walk away from us willingly, though to do so at any time would be very easy.
To that end, I hope that our bands continue to believe in our guidance and passion. Any of them that have had an incurable crisis of confidence will be allowed to leave with nothing but the kind of encouragement that we’ve built our label on.
Price-gouging ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli has since announced plans to lower the price of Daraprim. However, as Forbes argues, it’s not something that should be taken as a victory.
“Shkreli won,” writes Matthew Herper. “He made a huge price increase, rode through the resulting controversy, and now has settled in to taking a less huge price increase, but probably still very big price increase.
“When I reached him this morning, he told me that doctors don’t stop prescribing drugs because of bad media coverage. They prescribe them to save their patients’ lives. Shkreli may have made himself an industry pariah and the most-hated man in America, but he claims not to care.”
At least he’s been appropriately destroyed on social media, though.
— Joko Anwar (@jokoanwar) September 24, 2015
Martin Shkreli looks like the sort of person who says things along the lines of 'This displeases me, mother'. pic.twitter.com/DCrfwwwlzy
— Glenn Moore (@TheNewsAtGlenn) September 23, 2015
— Michael Beatrice (@MichaelBeatrice) September 22, 2015
— David G. (@dgiuli1) September 22, 2015
UPDATE 24/09/15: Shrekli has responded to the label’s decision to sever ties with him, telling The New York Times: “I don’t like it — I want to be involved in all this — but I respect their decision… They can move forward from here. I kickstarted the company… If they can find a new investor, great, if they go out of business then it is what it is.”
While Rickly tells The Times that he indeed fears that the whole drama could spell the death knell of the label: “This is going to end the career of the record label, no doubt. If I were a band on the label I would be having a serious crisis of faith right now. The amount of money I have in the bank doesn’t cover my outstanding invoices. It’s devastating.”