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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Martin Shkreli and Pharmaceutical Price Gouging
Created by John Eipper on 02/07/16 5:23 AM

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Martin Shkreli and Pharmaceutical Price Gouging (Bienvenido Macario, USA, 02/07/16 5:23 am)

Turing Pharmaceuticals former CEO Martin Shkreli was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform after his company raised the price of the medication Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill after Shkreli bought the license for medication.

However, during the hearing "Pharma Bro" Shkreli invoked the Fifth Amendment and avoided answering questions. After the hearing, he tweeted the following:

Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.

--Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016

http://news.yahoo.com/-pharma-bro--martin-shkreli-pleads-the-fifth-at-hearing--dodges-questions-172632068.html "> http://news.yahoo.com/-pharma-bro--martin-shkreli-pleads-the-fifth-at-hearing--dodges-questions-172632068.html

A relatively stronger government in an industrialized nation is just one of the reasons why people from Third World countries come to developed countries like the US anyway they can.

Compared to Third World countries, in the US greedy businessmen like Shkreli are investigated almost immediately.

But in Third World countries, there simply isn't any law and order. Oligarchs, their politicians and crony businessmen control entire economies.

Both the Democrats and Republicans seem to be using the immigration issue to attack each other, and neither side is suggesting to deal with the problem at the root cause and intervene in those failed states where the refugees and immigrants are coming from.

JE comments: "Intervene"? The results of this seemingly harmless verb have not been good for the last fifty or so years.

As for Shkreli, he is the kind of smart-ass profiteer that any politician would be happy to put behind bars.  Expect to see him there soon--all they need to do is find something to convict him of.


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  • Martin Shkreli and Alan Turing; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 02/08/16 12:18 PM)
    Ric Mauricio writes:

    I consider the acts of Martin Shkreli as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals an insult to the creator of the first mechanical computer and the man who saved the world from Nazism by breaking the Enigma Code: Alan Turing.


    I visited Bletchley Park in the UK a couple of years ago and was awed by what was accomplished by this great man.


    Unfortunately, this hero was treated very badly by the UK government due to his sexual orientation, and he committed suicide.


    Every time I run into a homophobic Christian who quotes the Bible justifying their prejudice against gays, I paraphrase John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he sent a gay man to save it."


    JE comments:  Turing Pharmaceuticals was indeed named after computer pioneer Alan Turing.  How many of you knew that Shkreli founded the company just one year ago, in February 2015?


    Shkreli's business model is as brilliant as it is cruel:  acquire the patent for an obscure but irreplaceable drug, and raise the price by a factor of fifty.  Turing is headquartered in Switzerland.  Does this give it a further level of legal untouchability?

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    • Alan Turing (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 02/09/16 5:01 AM)
      I too appreciate the greatness of Dr. Turing and enjoyed the Hollywood version of his life (The Imitation Game). On the other hand I dislike and reject Ric Mauricio's inane depiction of Jesus (8 February).

      JE comments:  Referring to Alan Turing's cracking of the Enigma Code during WWII, Ric Mauricio wrote:  "For God so loved the world, that he sent a gay man to save it."  I know Ric is a devout Christian, and meant no blasphemy with the remark.

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      • Alan Turing, Jesus, Christ, and St Paul; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 02/10/16 3:51 AM)
        Ric Mauricio responds to Francisco Wong-Díaz (9 February):

        Francisco's comment is an example of how a simple sentence can be misinterpreted, where a statement can be extrapolated to mean something that it was never meant to mean. My paraphrase was to be taken as it says. It specifically pointed to Alan Turing and that God did provide him to help us in our time of need. It does not and cannot be extended to mean that I thought Jesus was gay.


        I could easily have said that "God so loved the world, that he gave us a woman to save it" referring to Mother Theresa. Does it mean that I think that Jesus was a woman? Of course not.


        I am a follower of Jesus. He was here to enlighten us. I am not a follower of religion, no matter what denomination. I am not a follower of the Apostle Paul, who wrote 23% of the New Testament and who Luke wrote about extensively in the Book of Acts, which takes up 13% of the New Testament. The Gospels narrating the life and teachings of Jesus takes up 47% of the New Testament, yet I find that what religion emphasizes in most of its teachings are the teachings of the Apostle Paul.


        I guess I can get myself into bigger trouble by saying, "So Satan hated the world, that he sent the Apostle Paul and his Pharisee mindset to destroy the essence of Jesus' teachings." Paul was very careful to interweave much of Jesus' teachings into his teachings, but it was clear that he had his own agenda, an agenda that leaves many Christians confused and practicing a religion that can be contradictory to the message of Jesus.


        Jesus practiced inclusion. Paul preached exclusion. Jesus pissed off the powers that be. Paul preached not to rebel against authority because they are God-chosen.


        JE comments:  Didn't Paul also admonish women to be silent in church--Mulieres in ecclesiis taceant?  This is still the rationale for keeping women out of the Catholic clergy.


        Regarding Alan Turing and the Enigma Code, Ed Jajko (next) admonishes us not to overlook the pioneering word of the Polish cryptologists.

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      • Polish Cryptologists and Enigma Code (Edward Jajko, USA 02/10/16 4:15 AM)
        Since we are discussing Alan Turing, I submit a few facts for consideration. Turing was a brilliant man and a pioneer beyond doubt. But the solution to the puzzle of the German Enigma cryptological machines did not spring full-blown from his mind or from the collective minds of Bletchley Park.

        Enigma codes had been broken years before by Polish (oh, there he goes again) cryptanalysts and mathematicians who used their fluency in German to good effect. In 1939, as war loomed, the Polish Biuro Szyfrow (Cipher or code Office) called in cryptological experts from England and France and gave them the results of the Polish work. The French carried on the work as best they could, but were all too soon overrun by the Germans. The British set about applying the Polish work to the new and more complicated Enigma machines and promptly forgot where they had gotten the information from that enabled them to get started and miles ahead.


        Rather than The Imitation Game, I would suggest finding and studying the 1979 Polish movie Sekret Enigmy, Enigma Secret. This tells the story of the three Poles who broke Enigma, how they did it, how they participated in getting the intelligence to the French and English, and then their harrowing escapes to England after Poland fell.


        Once in England, two became Royal Army privates assigned to idiot work doing the simplest of decoding. The connection between their pioneering work and Ultra had been lost.


        I suggest also the Wikipedia article "Marian Rejewski." It should be eye-opening. It will suggest among other things why Turing called his Enigma code predicting and deciphering engine a "bombe." The Poles had called the machine they built earlier "bomba kryptologiczna."


        The three Poles, Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki, and Henryk Zygalski, deserve greater recognition and honor in the Western world. They helped shorten WWII.


        I said "There he goes again" above, because when I feel it necessary I try to point out what contributions Poland made to WWII. Cf the Wikipedia article under title "Polish contributions to World War II" for a summary.


        Writers west of Germany emphasize the US, UK, France. What happened in the East is blurred. The bombing of Dresden and other German cities is the subject of handwringing. The month-long aerial bombardment of Warsaw at the start of Hitler's war is forgotten or unknown. The punitive destruction of some 80% of the remaining city by the Germans after the capitulation that ended the Warsaw Uprising, by flamethrowers and deliberate dynamiting, a criminally vindictive act of reprisal based on Hitler's plan to have the Polish capital "glattrasiert" so that it could become the site of a new holiday city for the victorious German military--who knows of all that outside of historians and Poles. In our narrative, the British alone beat the Germans at their game of codes.


        JE comments:  Certainly in this house we don't forget Poland's heroism, suffering, and contributions to ultimate victory in WWII.  On an earlier occasion, Ed Jajko reminded us of the Polish fighter pilots in the RAF.  The 303 Squadron was one of the most effective flying units in the war:


        http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&l=en&objectType=post&o=96788&objectTypeId=79392&topicId=199


        I have a theory that Poles are good cryptologists because their language is so diabolically difficult that they already speak in code.  Ditto for the Hungarians, who on a per-capita basis, have probably given the world more great mathematicians than any other nation.


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        • Polish Cryptologists and Enigma Code: Response from Poland (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 02/11/16 7:36 AM)

          I took the liberty of sharing Edward Jajko's post on the Enigma story (10 February) with Dr. Bohdan Maruszewski, a Polish friend. His response was:



          "Thanks for your e-mail and info on Enigma. This story and piece of the history is very well known here in Poland and widely popularized by the movie mentioned in the note you sent."  All this orroborates Ed's contribution.


          JE comments:  Ed Jajko over the years has published several WAIS posts to give the Poles their due in the defeat of Nazism.  I say good for Ed.


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    • Hating Martin Shkreli (Paul Levine, Denmark 02/09/16 10:43 AM)
      Since we are discussing "the man everyone hates," readers might be interested in this article on Martin Shkreli from The New Yorker.



      Everyone Hates Martin Shkreli. Everyone Is Missing the Point



      http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/everyone-hates-martin-shkreli-everyone-is-missing-the-point

      More on the Shkreli fiasco from a humorist:


      Shkreli Miraculously Makes Nation Side with Congress


      http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/shkreli-miraculously-makes-nation-side-with-congress


      JE comments:  The members of the Congressional committee that got to grill Shkreli must be very thankful.  What better way to rally constituent support than by lambasting a smart-aleck drug profiteer?


      "Shkreli is the best thing to happen to Congress in years."

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  • Pharmaceutical Price Gouging (John Heelan, UK 02/08/16 1:51 PM)
    As the US government Medicare is probably the largest US customer for the purchase of pharmaceuticals, perhaps an appropriate response would for it to put Martin Shkreli's products on a "Black List" of banned purchases, as well as advising medical insurance companies they might be getting ripped off?

    JE comments: We can assume the biggest outcry on Daraprim came from the insurance giants.  Big Pharma has a lot of political clout, but Shkreli is/was Little Pharma. Hence the Congressional inquiry.


    Indeed, Big Pharma must be eager to throw Shkreli to the dogs precisely to draw attention away from the gradual, relentless upticks in pricing they are accustomed to.



    In the meantime, Turing has ousted Shkreli and lowered the price of Daraprim by "50%."  Does that now mean $375 for a $12 pill?


    I anticipate a new verb to enter the lexicon:  to shkreli.

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