Award season is underway, although this is one list that nobody wants to make.
The Lown Institute handed out its 2020 Shkreli Awards, which spotlight “the worst examples of profiteering and dysfunction in healthcare.”
Hospitals and pharma companies made an impressive showing “for committing acts of greed and indifference in the face of great suffering,” according to a Lown Institute news release. That includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital CEO Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, who came in at No. 6, for selling “$8.5 million worth of Moderna stock in 2020, after the company’s stock nearly quadrupled this year on news of early success with its COVID-19 vaccine.” She was also paid $487,500 in cash and stock awards in 2019 to serve on Moderna’s board of directors. She resigned from the board in July following reporting on potential conflicts of interest in the Boston Globe. Last week, Nabel announced she would step down from leading the hospital.
At No. 7: health systems overall for punishing front-line workers who spoke out about shortages of PPE and being forced to reuse single-use masks.
AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson earned the No. 5 spot for opposing a World Health Organization effort for drugmakers to cooperate and share vaccine trial data and patent rights.
But the No. 1 spot was reserved for the federal government’s PPE task force.
“Instead of coordinating with states to get lifesaving supplies distributed quickly, they handed the PPE over to private companies, leaving states to compete with each other in an overheated market while a national crisis raged,” the institute noted.
The awards, now in their fourth year, are named after Martin Shkreli, the so-called “pharma bro” who, among other things, infamously hiked prices on a relatively cheap HIV treatment by 5,000%. He is currently in federal prison for securities fraud.
A panel of clinicians, health policy experts, journalists, and patient advocates selects the final “winners.” In full disclosure, Modern Healthcare columnist Merrill Goozner serves as a judge.