Honestly. What is it going to take for the people and/or the government to throw these rich bastards in jail? No, not for being rich, but for, you know, breaking laws and regulations that effect the lives of actual people…. when?!?
Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned Wednesday as a growing scandal over falsified emissions tests rocked the world’s biggest carmaker.
“I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part,” Winterkorn said after an emergency meeting with Volkswagen directors.
Winterkorn, 68, was Volkswagen (VLKAY) CEO for eight years. The German company, which also owns the Audi and Porsche brands, had just achieved his long-standing goal of overtaking Toyota (TM) to become the biggest automaker three years ahead of target.
But his position had looked increasingly precarious since the scandal broke Friday, when U.S. regulators said the company had deliberately programmed some 500,000 diesel-powered vehicles to emit lower levels of harmful gases in official tests than on the roads.
The crisis escalated Tuesday when Volkswagen revealed it had found significant emissions discrepancies in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.
Winterkorn, an engineer and former head of Audi, said he was stunned by the scale of the misconduct, and was accepting responsibility to clear the way for a “fresh start” for the company.
Stunned, my ass. You don’t intentionally program an entire line of cars to “cheat” emissions tests without the CEO knowing about it. So this guy straps on a golden parachute, and leaves Volkswagon. But people die when these things are avoided:
Volkswagen has admitted that 11 million of its cars worldwide were designed to cheat emissions testing, in an escalating scandal that has loaded pressure on the wider motor industry.
Campaigners have long claimed engine emissions figures under laboratory tests are far exceeded in real-life conditions, and experts have said thousands of premature deaths could be averted by ensuring cars meet their legal limits.
Hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli is 32 years old but he’s acting half that age on Twitter today after news broke that his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, had raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
That’s not a typo — $13.50 to $750.00 per pill.
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a condition caused by a parasite that exists in nearly a quarter of the U.S. population over age 12, but which can prove deadly for the unborn children of pregnant women and for immunocompromised individuals like AIDS patients. These vulnerable populations will now have to pay over 5,000 percent more for their treatment.
Due to the sudden price hike, Shkreli, whose company only acquired Daraprim last month, has already dethroned the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion as the most-hated man in America.
Shkreli did a news show circuit as well, beginning with Bloomberg, where he attempted to argue that Daraprim had been underpriced before Turing swept in.
“The price per course of treatment to save your life was only $1,000 and we know these days, [with] modern pharmaceuticals, cancer drugs can cost $100,000 or more, rare-disease drugs can cost half a million dollars,” Shkreli said, as if it should be shocking that cheap, life-saving medicine could cost less than a laptop.
When confronted by the reporter with the low cost of producing Daraprim—about $1 per pill by her estimate—Shkreli claimed that the price hike was necessary for Turing Pharmaceuticals to increase revenue, and that some of the profits would be funneled into research and development costs for a Daraprim alternative. But as Emory University infectious disease professor Dr. Wendy Armstrong told RawStory, “I certainly don’t think this is one of those diseases where we have been clamoring for better therapies.”
Why do one percenters get away with this? Because they can:
But as reprehensible as Shkreli’s actions might appear, what is even more harrowing is that they are not illegal. With his social media swagger, Shkreli makes an easy target for a problem that extends far beyond the confines of his ego: the rampant overpricing of life-saving medicine. As USA Today reported, many new cancer drugs cost over $100,000 per year—a fact that Shkreli, ironically, sees as justification for raising the cost of Daraprim. And technically, there’s no way to stop him.
As a spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration told The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins on Twitter in response to Shkreli’s actions, their power in this situation is, well, nonexistent.
An FAQ page on the FDA’s website asks, “What can the FDA do about the cost of drugs?” and the answer is, essentially, nothing: “We understand that drug prices have a direct impact on the ability of people to cope with their illnesses as well as meet other expenses. However, FDA has no legal authority to investigate or control the prices charged for marketed drugs.”
In any event, Shkreli’s media blitz cast him in an even worse light — he came off as slimy and greasy as a used car salesman. Just .look at his picture. The latest news today is that Shkreli has agreed to reduce the price, although he will not say by how much.
He’s not the first person to corner the market on a drug and hike the price. But he’s one of the most frequent offenders. Fortunately, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have weighed in, and this could become a political hot potato. Any chance for reform? We’ll see.