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Peculiar Picture #38

September 30, 2015




I’m sure you’re aware of the story about a young CEO who purchased a pharmaceutical company and hiked the price of a decades-old pill five thousand percent. Martin Shkreli quickly passed the likes of George Zimmerman and Kim Davis as the most hated person in America when he raised the price of Daraprim, which keeps thousands of people alive, from $13.50 per tablet to $750.00.


This tale of consummate greed sprang to mind when I pulled this illustration from my files. Created years ago for The Oregonian, Portland’s premier newspaper, it was to accompany an article on rising drug prices. My artwork had been approved by the art director, but the story was pulled and never ran in the paper. This was fairly common and no explanation was given, although I did get paid for my artwork.





My idea was to create a castle from prescription bottles to represent the pharmaceutical companies, stormed by a knight on a white horse attacking greed in the form of the huge profit-loving snake, a St. George and the Dragon sort of image. I can’t recall why I decided on a snake instead of a dragon, which would have been more fun to paint.


It’s been fifteen years since I created this image, and the prices of medicine and health care have continued to rise. I’d hoped by now that images like this would be faint reminders of a time long ago when corporate greed made it necessary for many people to chose between food and medicine, but that hasn’t proven to be the case.


Stories of cold-hearted avarice, like the one involving this young CEO, make my blood boil. I need to take a chill pill but unfortunately I’m all out. I wonder how much they’ve gone up in price since my last refill.



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The greed in this country by those who already have more than they need is disgusting. what the hell happened to America?
By: Ellen Abbott on September 30, 2015
Why would anyone want money at the expense of someone life? I know, that is a stupid question because there are people that walk this earth and do that every day. Just do not understand how they were born missing the human gene.
By: Tabor on September 30, 2015
I can see the price going up as costs go up, but not just because he can and by so much. Criminal. Excellent image. Who knows, you might have a chance to use it in the near future?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on September 30, 2015
My question is this: why would the government allow this to happen? Aren't there some sort of regulations to prevent this sort of hideous avarice? This totally boggles my mind. Great illustration of RX Town!
By: Kathe W. on September 30, 2015
Send this to the Oregonian, Steve, long with your blog. I think a number of folks would appreciate your take on drug prices.
By: Jo Barney on September 30, 2015
The more things change the more they remain the same.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 30, 2015
awesome illustration! love it!
By: TexWisGirl on September 30, 2015
That painting is perfect to illustrate the pharmaceuticals greed. Too bad the newspapers and TV's didn't have access to it. My cardiologist just prescribed an alternative medicine that would have cost me $380 a month. I stuck with my $10 for three months generic.
By: Akansas Patti on September 30, 2015
The more negative news about these guys the better. Maybe somebody else might not want to receive the bad press.
By: red on September 30, 2015
Fabulous picture! And maybe you painted a snake instead of a dragon so you could put more dollar signs on it, making sure no one mistook what it was meant to be.
By: mimi on September 30, 2015
I wish your skills would have been available when I was a senior news executive. Your graphic interpretations would have been magnificent on our television stations. That's a great piece of work-it says it! Call me an idealist, but where health, healing and medical science is involved the profit motive has no place. I understand that pharma needs to recoup on investment and development costs, but there has to be a limit. Our health care chain has some broken links.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 30, 2015
I'm sending this to my son who's a drug rep!!
By: fishducky on September 30, 2015
The companies need to charge for the cost of development, and probably a whole bunch of reasons that might be somewhat legitimate, and drugs for rare diseases probably are even less cost efficient, but this case was over the top. I think the decision was changed. I don't know what the answer is, but somehow these drugs need to be more affordable while the drug companies still make a reasonable profit. Maybe government subsidies or tax breaks could help if the companies could reasonably explain their cost issues. And in some cases, perhaps some drug executives should see the inside of a jail. And I love the illustration!
By: cranky on September 30, 2015
Peculiar or not, this is one of my favorites.
By: Val on September 30, 2015
I really like your illustration. Alas, capitalism is a wonderful system until someone takes profitability over compassion to the legal limit.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on September 30, 2015
The price of drugs are obscene. Free enterprise has been good in a lot of ways to our country, but this kind of greed gives free enterprise a bad name. The board of directors should hick his wormy butt out of his cushy chair.
By: Rick Watson on September 30, 2015
I don't get it. By and large the patients don't pay those prices. the insurance companies (or Medicare) do. So why do they put up with the situation? Maybe you could sell the art to Aetna or Metlife!
By: Tom Sightings on September 30, 2015
I love the illustration, and I always admired the creativity of people who create images like that. Sadly, it seems there will always be a need for images that bring to life various forms of injustice.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on October 1, 2015
This is a great image. Such greed beggars belief, pun intended.
By: John on October 1, 2015
Your illustration is perfect for this case of pharma greed. From what I understand, this is an "old" medicine, one that has been around for many years. Why can't someone make and sell this for $15 per pill as soon as this greedy CEO raised his price?
By: Pixel Peeper on October 1, 2015
That is just pure disgusting! I have no words and yet am still happy to be in Canada where we often have coverage. I love your illustration-it reminds me of the French midieval art I have seen. I think the snake is perfect
By: Birgit on October 2, 2015
Love your artwork. Great idea. The cost of prescription drugs is a very sore subject for me. Living on Social Security, I've had to tell doctors that I could not afford meds that they recommended because I could not afford the co-pay. I have Medicare insurance and a supplemental coverage as well but $50, $75 a month is too steep for me. I don't know how some seniors are managing on much smaller monthly checks. Blood is boiling now!! Lol
By: Bouncin Barb on October 6, 2015

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