Twitter pranks prompt unexpected scrutiny of insulin prices

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Twitter has unleashed a series of rapid and chaotic changes since the $44 billion acquisition of Elon Musks.  - AFP/File
Twitter has unleashed a series of rapid and chaotic changes since Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition. – AFP/File

Washington: a Twitter The fraud has cost the US pharmaceutical giant billions of dollars, but the viral prank has caused another unexpected crisis – a new wave of scrutiny over the high cost of insulin.

Fake authentic-looking accounts went viral last week after Twitter rolled out its paid verification service, the latest in a chaotic series of developments since then. Elon MuskA massive $44 billion buyout of the influential platform.

Among the victims was pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, whose share price plummeted – wiping billions off market value – after a satirical account stamped with a verification flag bought for $8 tweeted that insulin It is provided free of charge.

The company had to issue an apology for the “misleading letter from a nightly bogus account,” but the misinformation has sparked fresh attention in a long-running controversy over soaring insulin prices.

“What you should *actually* apologize for is the price gouging of life-saving insulin,” Chicago human rights attorney Qasim Rashid wrote on Twitter.

“People are dying because of your greed (and) your cruelty. I apologize for that.”

Gaining traction along with comments like this is a cartoon meme with a half-elephant, half-human character that pisses people off more about the price of insulin than the price of gas.

“Fake Eli Lilly may be offering something closer to the truth than the real Eli Lilly,” said Peter Maybardock of the nonprofit Public Citizen. France Press agency.

“Parody succeeds when it exposes an embarrassing, widely understood truth.”

“offensive pricing”

In recent decades, insulin prices have skyrocketed in the United States, costing more than eight times more than in 32 high-income countries, according to a 2020 study by Rand Corporation.

A survey released in October by the nonprofit organization T1International found that one in four participants with diabetes reported rationing insulin due to financial pressures.

On Monday, which marks World Diabetes Day, dozens of advocacy groups, including Public Citizen, sent a letter to Congress calling for an end to what they called insulin price gouging.

“There is no defense to Eli Lilly’s abusive insulin pricing,” Maybardock said.

He added, “It’s a long time since insulin was available to everyone, and yes — it should be free.”

The backlash against Eli Lilly demonstrated the real-life potential of online disinformation to wreak havoc and financial loss. The company’s share price has recovered marginally since last week’s decline.

But in this rare instance, it brought to light an oft-ignored public health issue.


“Misinformation is not without divergence – Eli Lilly’s share price has fallen dramatically,” Al Tompkins, a faculty member at the Poynter Institute, told AFP.

But exploiting Twitter’s anarchic implementation of its paid verification policy, the prank managed to make “the insulin drug price conversation relevant to a lot of people.”

On Friday, Twitter disabled sign-ups for its controversial feature known as Twitter Blue, which was reportedly temporarily disabled to help address impersonation issues — but not before several brands took a hit.

Shares of other companies, such as Lockheed Martin Air Defense, were also hit after being targeted by impersonators.

The prank sent panic inside Eli Lilly, as officials scrambled to contact Twitter representatives to remove it, but the platform did not react for hours, The Washington Post reported Monday.

By Friday, Eli Lilly executives had ordered all advertising campaigns on Twitter to cease, a move that could cost the platform millions of dollars.

That would be another blow to Twitter, which laid off nearly half of its workforce after Musk’s takeover of the company as it struggles to raise revenue.

Eli Lilly and Twitter did not respond France Press agencyComment request.


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