The mass media’s critical spotlight on Martin Shkreli’s AIDS drug price hikes and his seemingly inevitable downfall contributes to society’s conservative mentality.
When Shkreli was arrested for allegedly committing securities fraud people rejoiced thanks to his former decision to raise the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill – which, to many, represented the endemic immorality of corporate capitalist greed.
Yet, it is unfortunate that the mass media focus has been on the demonization of this individual rather than of the industry itself. This more structural critique has been almost entirely absent from mainstream news. The patenting of drugs and the addition of exorbitant price increases is absolutely nothing new in the pharmaceutical industry. A sustained intelligent conversation regarding pricing mechanisms and the costs of developing drugs and the reasoning behind these has not yet materialised.
The most prevalent mood on social media and indeed in the mass media has been: ‘What goes around, comes around’. This mentality ensures that we ignore those who get away with some of the most heinous everyday acts that are normalised within capitalism – a capitalism that raises the life-long pursuit of profit to a similar height to religious and spiritual discovery.
This concocted mood fuels a move away from fairness via legal change on domestic and on international fronts. It also dampens the desire of the masses to pursue legal routes of justice against powerful groups and individuals who have broken the law at the expense of national populations. We think: ‘life will punish them, it always does. What goes around comes around.’ A feeling that if the law won’t give people the justice they deserve, then life will. Of course, this is not to deny that these things do happen from time to time.
Unfortunately, as we are all too aware, divine justice does not always prevail. Many bankers are continuing to make fat-cat profits, despite contributing to ruining the lives of many others through sheer greed. Prolific paedophile, Jimmy Saville, went to his grave without hearing his name destroyed in the eyes of the public and without having to face justice for his arrogant crimes. More recently, British Labour Party peer, Lord Janner, died without having to stand trial for alleged child sex abuse crimes.
Is the Shkreli coverage a conspiracy? No. It highlights, however, the superficial news coverage of every day issues that greet the ordinary person on the street, and a failure to address issues that critique the ‘free’ market capitalist system of which many media outlets are actively part of and help to prop up.