This story boggles the mind. The Chief Executive Officer is either Indian or of Indian origin. His comments are politically incorrect, at the minimum and wrong, at worst.
“The point here is the only other choice is the brand at the higher price. It is still a saving regardless of whether it is a big one or not,” said Mr Mulye.
Mr Mulye compared his decision to increase the price to an art dealer that sells “a painting for half a million dollars” and said he was in “this business to make money”.
He also defended the actions of Martin Shkreli, who became infamous in 2015 for his decision to raise the price of an Aids and cancer drug from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. Shkreli was jailed earlier this year on unrelated fraud charges.
“I agree with Martin Shkreli that when he raised the price of his drug he was within his rights because he had to reward his shareholders,” said Mr Mulye.
Mr Mulye pointed out that Shkreli was able to increase the price of Daraprim so dramatically because his company was the only one making it.
“If he’s the only one selling it then he can make as much money as he can,” said Mr Mulye. “This is a capitalist economy and if you can’t make money you can’t stay in business.”
He added: “We have to make money when we can. The price of iPhones goes up, the price of cars goes up, hotel rooms are very expensive.” [Link]
I do not know whether he has learnt that the goal of capitalism was not rewarding shareholders at all times; that it is a construct of the 1980s, etc. Further, I wonder if he also knows that capitalist enterprises could survive only if they are also seen by the market as being fair players and not amoral players. Then, there is Karma, of course.
I wonder what Adam Smith would have made of him, had he been around.
Students of economics can debate the following questions:
- Is market economy compassionate?
- Or, is there no place for compassion in a market economy? Why not? Shouldn’t it be there?
- Without compassion, can there be a society? Without society, can there be an economy? – market economy or non-market economy?
- Further, is he right to come across as so callous and insensitive? He may score marks for honesty but is the CEO being insensitive?
- There is another angle: Intellectual Property Rights/Patents of Pharma companies. Should there be IP protection at all, in the first place? If so, for how long?
These are all the questions one can explore.