Seemed like a good idea….

As much as I would enjoy discussing the ethical issues that plagued my former place of employment, I decided against it. I tried to decide on a familiar organization afflicted with ethical dilemmas, but as I was mulling over companies I remembered Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli, and my search ended. Keep in mind I only know what I have read about this man, I am in no way an expert.

I honestly paid no mind to Shkreli until he was in the news for raising the price of the drug Daraprim by epic proportions and was arrested for securities fraud last year. I find the more I read about him the more I wonder how someone like Martin became Pharma Bro. I came across Bruce Y. Lee’s article on Shkreli titled “How Did Martin Shkreli Ever Become a Pharmaceutical CEO?” (2016) and as someone who wondered the same thing, I read through the article. Lee points out that Shkreli never had experience in disease research, drug development or experience as a leader (2016). Lee also feels that if Shkreli understood and showed interest in his consumers he would not have raised the drug price (2016). What Shkreli does seem to show interest in is snapping posh selfies and reminding people of how intelligent he is. Since this is an ethics course and ethics envelope values, morals, and behavior (Wheeler, 2016) this is an area that seems to be missing from Shkreli’s arsenal if you have read anything about this young man. It is extremely difficult for me to see how raising that drug price roughly 5,000 percent (McClean, 2016) is not considered impermissible (Bonde, S., Firenze, P., Green, J., Grinberg, M., Korijin, J., Levoy, E., Naik, A., Ucik, L., & Weisberg, L, 2013).  An increase like that prevents those who need it the most from receiving it.

As much as I enjoyed Lee’s article, there was another written by Bethany Mclean that still touches on Shkreli’s dark side, yet discusses that he does know what he is doing and what he is talking about when it comes to drug development (2016). There are interesting sections in Mclean’s article about Shkreli revealing that he made the move from hedge funds to pharmaceuticals because there was more money (2016). But, then before I got ahead of myself I read that Shkreli was moved by a boy who had muscular dystrophy and had passed away. Shkreli then wanted to develop treatments for muscular dystrophy and has helped develop possible treatments for rare diseases (Mclean, 2016). So, while I have read more stories on Shkreli that show him devoid of a moral code than I have in a positive light, I do not know him, so I have no idea if he is genuine or just a scam artist. He could be weighing the pros of cons of his decisions, or just doing what is going to make him rich. It truly is hard for me to get past Shkreli’s outbursts on social media and the fact that ethics have standards of behavior (Wheeler, 2016) which he seems to care little about. Constant outbursts could have negative influence on one’s followers (Wheeler, 2016).  Of course, this is the same guy who was indicted for securities fraud so…….



Bonde, S., Firenze, P., Green, J., Grinberg, M., Korijin, J., Levoy, E., Naik, A., Ucik, L., & Weisberg, L. (2013, May). A framework for making ethical decisions. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Lee, B., Y. (2016). How Did Martin Shkrelli Ever Become a Pharmaceutical CEO? Retrieved from

Mclean, B., (2016). Everything You Know about Martin Shkreli Is Wrong- Or is it? Retrieved from

Wheeler, J., (2016). U01: The Basics of Ethical Leadership. Retrieved from

One Comment

  1. Sonja Celeste Rushton Whittington September 23, 2016 at 12:32 PM #

    Wow. I didn’t recall the story of Martin Shkreli but read the Vanity Fair article you cite. I am not in a position to pass ultimate judgement but this situation brings up several issues. What immediately struck me was how Shkreli seem to attempt to justify his actions. “In one breath, he calls himself a capitalist and in the next an altruist—the latter because, he claims, his real goal is to invent new drugs for rare diseases. ‘I’m like Robin Hood,” he continues. ‘I’m taking Walmart’s money and doing research for diseases no one cares about.’ “ (Mclean, 2016). In this case, does the ends justify the means? Judging Shkreli from a deontological view would indicate that his actions were not inherently ethical. (Lefkowitz, 2012). Is there a moral reason the drug prices should not be raised? Is the action of raising the drug price inherently unethical? What is in question is more his motives for raising the drug price: did he do it simply to raise profits or does he truly want to advance the development of drugs to cure rare diseases? I want to view this situation and him from a teological or consequentialist theory standpoint. His ends of higher capital and possibly developing rare disease drugs. According to Lefkowitz (2012), the consequentialist views the moral rightness of an action by “focusing on the good and bad that will result from the act.” In this situation, it seems that Shkreli is trying to justify his actions by focusing on the potential good that may result. (Mclean, 2016)I would say his moral development as far as business is concerned has stalled to Kohlberg’s preconventional level state 2 where he follows the laws but is primarily concerned with serving his own needs. (Lefkowitz, 2012). All in all, I think this would be an extremely interesting case to dissect and has a lot of value in illustrating the concepts we are studying this session.

    Mclean, B., (2016). Everything You Know about Martin Shkreli Is Wrong- Or is it? Retrieved from

    Lefkowitz, J., (2012). Ethics and Values in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

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