"$1bn here we come."
That was the triumphant message sent by then-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, the infamous "Pharma Bro" who jacked up the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent last year, when it became clear his firm could acquire the rights to the medicine. The email went to Turing's presumably pleased board of directors last May.
To anyone who's followed this story since The New York Times shined a spotlight on Turing and intensified the national debate about prescription drug pricing last fall, the Shkreli email and other documents made public by the Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Tuesday do little more than confirm the basic facts. Turing raised the price of Daraprim, which treats a deadly parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis that afflicts HIV/AIDS patients, because it could. The company reaped a windfall, followed by a massive backlash that forced out Shkreli without providing any relief to patients.
But this kind of drug pricing strategy isn't limited to one rogue executive or company. Though rarely quite so blatant, it's woven throughout the pharmaceutical industry.