back to article What does an ex-Pharma Bro do next? If it's Shkreli, it's an AI Dr bot

Just because you're banned from the pharmaceutical industry for life, that doesn't mean you can't launch a medical chatbot to dispense advice. On Thursday, Martin Shkreli, released last year from a seven-year stint in prison for securities fraud, announced the availability of Dr Gupta. The controversial entrepreneur described …

  1. Orv Silver badge

    The best part of Shkreli's trial was how obviously the courtroom artist loathed him.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      That artist is far from being alone.

      Hold the bastard in contempt ? I've got the FTC beat by years.

      And no, DO NOT reduce the fines.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Can't blame the court artist. The general consensus was his face was so divinely punchable and smarmy that it inadvertently proved the existence of god.

  2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Theranos II

    "I created Dr Gupta to actually address healthcare costs..."

    I sure Mr. Shkrelli wrote absolutely none of the code in this thing, and whatever this thing turns out to be, it will be a fraud.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Theranos II

      And one suspects it will invariably prescribe a specific medication that just so happens to be under patent and $150,000 per dose, three doses a day, with a six-year minimum course.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Theranos II

      Of course it'll be a fraud. Fraud is what Shkrelli does. What I don't see is how he's going to make an obscene amount of money off AI. But I imagine he'll find a way.

  3. DS999 Silver badge

    Scammers gotta scam

    Too bad part of his sentence wasn't a lifetime ban on being involved in anything related in any way to the medical field. Oh well, knowing him I'm sure he'll do something illegal soon if he hasn't already, and since he's already familiar to law enforcement they will immediately take note should his name appear on their radar again.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Scammers gotta scam

      That would probably have been thrown out by a higher court as being too harsh and "preventing mr. Shkreli from finding lawful employment" since he claims that that's his specialty. Personally I think he shouldn't ever be allowed to run any company ever again, just be a wage slave and actually be useful (or be fired). But given how this shitbag is behaving, give it some time, harsher punishments might still come to him.

      1. parlei

        Re: Scammers gotta scam

        If I was entirely without ethics I would produce a front-end that parsed US "healthcare" insurance claims, pre-auth requests, etc and produced a text as to why it should be denied. And sell it to the US medical insurance industry. Or maybe they already has this process streamlined as far as it can be?

  4. tmTM

    Who is 'we' ??

    Does this mean someone is actually working with this guy??

    I hope people aren't thinking of investing money with him.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Who is 'we' ??

      If you've got no morals and don't mind screwing people over to make a buck you might not mind what this guy did in the first place (or even think he's awesome for it). Plenty of dirtbags in the world with money to burn who would go into business with this guy to try to make a quick buck.

  5. lafnlab

    If it's a "physician chatbot" but isn't intended to give medical advice, what exactly is it's purpose? Why would people use it? Is it supposed to hold some sort of entertainment value ("I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"). The FDA regulates medical devices in the US and they would probably be interested in finding out more. I suspect it will be something more like the WebMD website, but with chatbot features. LLMs are new territory for many fields and the current laws and regulations weren't written with them in mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what exactly is it's purpose?

      to ride the wave, cream the rich idiots (unfortunately, he's not an idiot himself) and then get rich at while not getting caught this time. That's his plan, methinks.

      1. lafnlab

        Re: what exactly is it's purpose?

        I wonder how long it will be before Gwenyth Paltrow published a rave review about it in Goop?

        1. parlei

          Re: what exactly is it's purpose?

          Nah, she'll just start DrOop, which will (a) have all the fine print needed to stay on the right side of the law, and (b) suggest intravaginal crystal something or other as a cure for UTIs

    2. Orv Silver badge

      I do wonder why he keeps gravitating toward medical applications. There are so many other spaces where you can rip people off without there being a government agency specifically intended to stop you.

      1. veti Silver badge

        It's what he knows. He's spent his entire career in that space, you can't blame him for wanting to be able to make use of all that experience.

      2. Erik Beall

        Because he knows the regulators are so swamped they can barely keep up with device and drug applications, so defanged they can barely do anything except issue warning letters and very very rarely ask other branches if the government to block wrongdoing, finally have been directed to do no more than rubber stamp applications as long as those applications can say "of course this data is real, and of course we follow the relevant international standards". The weakening started in the 2000's when they stopped adding capacity to address the rising tide of new things, then accelerated during obama when they were told to increase approvals, then they were just shot to hell when they were ordered to stop standing in the way of entrepreneurs and big drug companies. I wish the stupid aducanumab decision was the bottom but the ship appears to be pointed firmly downwards thanks to industry capture of most of the directors. Thanks Janet Woodcock (the Ajit Pai of the FDA).

      3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Scammers are attracted to lots of money. The US healthcare market is awash with the stuff.

        1. Spanners Silver badge

          RE: What does an ex-Pharma Bro do next? If it's Shkreli, it's an AI Dr bot

          The US healthcare market...

          Can I correct your grammar here, please? It is the US "healthcare" market.

          Those quotation marks are important!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I do wonder why he keeps gravitating toward medical applications

        Because the military field is already well saturated, and they have explosives?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Exactly, a chatbot in front of a bunch of generic medical advice. It's the "take two aspirin and call me in the morning" of 2023. Except that the "other services" wrapped into it are presumably unlabeled advertising, as others have suggested.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      It's the same as all the people who sell useless things under vague suggestions that it will make you healthier and eliminate any disease or discomfort you might have. They have to put in the denials because otherwise they will face fraud charges, but it won't stop them from making claims that it will be very helpful and you need to buy it right now or you will die. They end up making money on usually inert, though sometimes toxic stuff. Why not try a variant of the scam where you have a program sound authoritative as it suggests such things to you? The main reason is because you don't have the morals of a parasite, but not everybody is in that group.

    5. katrinab Silver badge

      The purpose is to persuade investors that it could be developed to the point where it gets medial approval and they can remove that disclaimer.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dr Gupta

    chatGPT: how to effectively and permanently eliminate this Shkreli person? It seems some characters always re-float...

  7. trevorde Silver badge

    Message from prison

    "Bubba The Bull Queer misses you and wants to know when you'll be home"

  8. bertkaye

    Dr Gupta beats Doc Martin any day

    Dr Gupta told me about the benefits of using leeches, blood letting, and plague masks. He is wise in the ways of nature.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    So this is the first AI to have received an officially recognized doctorate degree?

  10. dharmOS

    AI and formulary

    Is the only drug on Dr Gupta’s prescribing formulary Daraprim? Is there a Trump-supporter variant that only does IV bleach, chloroquine etc?

  11. chivo243 Silver badge

    Stealing ideas from cartoons!

    Isn't this Big Hero 6 meets real life?

    Kidding aside, all he's marketing here is a talking medical encyclopedia\dictionary, what frippery!

  12. xyz123 Bronze badge

    Dear Dr Gupta, I have been depressed for a while. What can I do to cheer myself and my friends up?

    DR: Punching Martin Shkreli repeatedly in his very-punchable face (with punches) would cheer up the most depressed Sloth in the world and bring a smile to the face of a Blobfish.

    [I am not a doctor and therefore punching Martin Shkreli in the face 200 times may not cure your depression, but it sure would make other people laugh]

  13. pimppetgaeghsr Bronze badge

    From I can gather online a lot of doctors in the US are just pill happy drug dealers. They seem to have a culture of dispensing pills to treat symptoms rather than treat underlying issues, which is far more profitable for the big pharma corps that get a premium per pill from the insurers. It's how the US wound up with a massive opioid epidemic.

    But sure, the guy who wanted to cash in on the insurers willing to pay hundreds per pill is the bad guy. What's worse is he went to prison just to make the american public believe there is justice in the US whilst they keep getting rinsed by pharma corporations and insurance companies.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      You seen unaware of how the insurance business works.

      They calculate how much, on average, they'll have to spend on payouts - like those pills. They disallow any that are "too expensive".

      Then they add a profit margin.

      Then they set your insurance premium to ensure they make that profit.

      The more expensive the pills, the higher your premiums will be - unless the insurer decides they're too expensive and won't buy them at all.

      If your employer is paying the premium, then that's money you could have been paid in salary/bonus, if it hadn't gone to the insurance company.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like