Eight years after he was first found to be hiking up the price of a drug used to treat AIDS, cancer and malaria by more than 5000%, Martin Shkreli has received his comeuppance: a US court has banned him from ever working in big pharma and ordered him to repay the $US64.6 million he gained from the drug Daraprim when he was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.
Shkreli, who is serving seven years for securities fraud, is reportedly unrepentant, a point not lost on US District Court Judge Denise Cote: "Shkreli's anticompetitive conduct at the expense of the public health was flagrant and reckless. Barring him from the opportunity to repeat that conduct is nothing if not in the interest of justice."
But will slugging one of the most egregious exemplars of the drug industry exploitation help restore trust in big pharma? The world has turned to pharmaceutical companies in the pandemic, relying on manufacturers for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and life-saving interventions for those who develop severe disease. But it hasn't done much to increase public trust: last year Australia became completely reliant on big pharma for a pathway out of the pandemic, but just 62% of people said they trusted the pharmaceutical industry. In comparison, 75% of Australians said they trusted healthcare.