PRESS RELEASE: Top-ten pandemic profiteers, health system malfunctions take spotlight in 2020 Shkreli Awards

The crisis of Covid-19 created new opportunities for exploitation by this year’s greedy and misguided “winners.” 

Visit the official Shkreli 2020 Awards page >>

Brookline, Mass — Pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are at the forefront of the medical response to the pandemic, but they also dominate the 2020 Lown Institute Shkreli Awards for committing acts of greed and indifference in the face of great suffering. The number one spot, however, goes to 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 Shkreli Awards, named for the infamous “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, are awarded each year to perpetrators of the ten most egregious examples of profiteering and dysfunction in health care. This is the fourth year the awards have been bestowed by the Lown Institute, a health care think tank that believes a radically better health system is possible. “Winners” are judged by a panel of clinicians, health policy experts, journalists, and patient advocates.

“The pandemic called for civic leadership in health care like never before, and these awardees weren’t listening,” said Dr. Vikas Saini, President of the Lown Institute. “They’re signals of deep dysfunction that must be addressed if Americans are to have the healthcare system they want and need.”

2020 Lown Institute Shkreli Award Winners:

  1. Federal PPE task force gives lifesaving supplies to private companies to distribute, creating bidding wars and delay
  2. Drug company Moderna uses $1 Billion in taxpayer funding to develop Covid-19 vaccine, sets highest price of any vaccine-maker
  3. Hospitals with extra beds refuse to take uninsured patients from overrun neighboring hospitals
  4. Nursing homes fail to protect most vulnerable Americans from Covid-19
  5. Big pharma rejects global effort to cooperate on Covid-19, competes for profit instead
  6. Hospital CEO pens op-ed justifying high vaccine prices, neglects to disclose $487,000 conflict of interest
  7. Hospitals punish mask-wearing clinicians for “scaring the public”
  8. Connecticut doctor uses town’s Covid-19 testing sites to bilk residents
  9. Pandemic profiteers peddle fake and potentially harmful Covid-19 cures
  10. Private-equity backed companies spend millions to protect surprise billing practices, while cutting physician pay and pocketing millions of pandemic relief dollars

A complete list of winners with descriptions, sources, and judges’ comments is available at

About the Lown Institute

Founded in 1973 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, MD, developer of the defibrillator and cardioverter, the Lown Institute advances civic leadership, accountability, and value in health care. The Institute believes a radically better system of health is possible and advances bold ideas to achieve this. Their signature project is the Lown Hospitals Index. It’s the first hospital ranking focused on civic leadership and includes measures like inclusivity by race, avoidance of overuse, and pay equity.


Aaron Toleos, Lown Institute, (978) 821-4620,