Martin Shkreli – the guy who made headlines this week when he and his company raised the price of a drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill – also has apparent connections to the music world: Noisey published interviews that detail Shkreli’s involvement with the independent label, Collect Records. As it turns out, he is a major investor.
Daraprim – the drug mainly used to treat toxoplasmosis, but can also be essential to people with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS or certain cancer patients – saw a 5,000 percent price increase in one night. Shkreli claims this is start-up company’s, Turing Pharmaceuticals, decision was too minor to significantly impact the health system and the reasoning behind the raise the price was to allow for research to develop a better treatment for toxoplasmosis; however, organizations like the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association openly denounced Turing and Shkreli’s decision, calling it “unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population” and “unsustainable for the health care system.”
The interviews in Noisey were with Geoff Rickly, former frontman of Thursday who formed the label, and Nicky Money, part of the band Nothing and one of Collect Records’ most recent signings. They set to find out their take on Shkreli’s recent actions.
Rickly detailed that he first heard about the price hike via Twitter and didn’t know what to do with the information at first, thinking it might be false or something blown out of proportion. When it was confirmed, he said he was “struggling to find how this is OK.” He went on to say:
My head is still spinning, and though I want to believe that there is some reason that he would do this that is some remotely positive way, the only thing I can see is that it is totally and completely heartbreaking…I can’t see my future at all in the label. I have to see what the bands want first, and see if there is any meaning or any mission following all of this. More than anything, I want the bands to see that I hold art as the guiding force in my life. Ultimately I see this going in the same way it always does, where all the artists get blamed for everything and capitalism is never held accountable. I really think that if Collect is going to be scrutinized as being capitalism, but that is how music survives. I’m not making excuses for what has happened, but there is no corner of the music industry that doesn’t live and breathe from subsidies from business. It’s reductive and hypocritical to hold us and only us accountable though, we are all at fault in some greater way.
Nicky Money similarly said he first heard about the situation on Twitter. He denounced Shkreli’s actions in the interview, calling him a “sociopathic businessman” and described the current status of the involvement ugly. When asked if he felt Nothing could ever have a home at Collect Records, he replied, “Nothing will never be a part of a label that involves Martin.”
UPDATE: After backlash on social media, Shkreli has announced that he will lower the cost of Daraprim again to make it more affordable. NBC News and other news outlets are reporting that a decision has not yet been reached on the new price of the medication, but it should be announced within the next few weeks.