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Shkreli the gateway musical: 5 more health and life science dramas that should get a shot on Broadway

Step aside, “Martin Shkreli’s Game.” Here are a few more inspired ideas from the healthcare and life sciences industry that could make it to the Great White Way.

Opening the Stage

As you might have heard, Martin Shkreli is getting a dubious honor: a musical based on the drama of his purchasing exclusive rights to a one-off Wu-Tang Clan album and the lore that accompanied it. (By the way, we called it, sort of.)

It’s a little disappointing, quite frankly, and not because Shkreli would make a poor subject for dramatization. It’s just that he’s probably better known for being the unapologetic executive behind the price increase of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 used to treat toxoplasmosis, which can cause brain damage in infants, people with AIDS as well as those with compromised immune systems. Federal prosecutors have also charged him for allegedly illegally taking stock from Retrophin, a biotech firm he started in 2011 and where he was later ousted. The smirking pharma bro ignited a national debate on drug prices. What more dramatic material do you need than that?

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Nonetheless, we at MedCity News have been inspired and have taken on the challenge of coming up with a few more topics that would make excellent fodder for Broadway. Here are a few of them. We’d welcome your comments and suggestions as well.

Theranos the Rock Opera. Elizabeth Holmes is an important figure for a lot of reasons. Not only has she presided over a blood testing company with an ascent, decline and is attempting a comeback — all of which has taken place over only a few years. She also remains unapologetic, though occasionally changing the Steve Jobs turtleneck of innovator arrogance for a more modest button-down shirt of the common people. She also offers a reminder that having more women as leaders to also goes hand in hand with the risk that some will falter. Thinking about the timeline of Theranos, we see it opening at the TEDMED Talk she gave in 2014 and concluding with a hopeful number with the company’s recently appointed scientific advisory board, scored by Stevie Nicks. You?

Steve Burrill. God, where to start. He fell from grace a while ago (2014 to be exact) but the Securities and Exchange Commission’s permanently barring him from the securities industry for misappropriating investor funds for personal use capped that part of his life. There were the dashed hopes of the Pine Island biotech complex in Minnesota, which saw the state spent $36 million in state and federal money to build a highway interchange directly to Elk Run for a complex that never materialized. He also offered rosy prognostications of the biotech industry. The San Francisco Chronicle helpfully referenced “The Music Man.” Meredith Wilson may no longer be with us, but we hear Lin-Manuel Miranda is pretty hot. Maybe Miranda can do for Burrill what he did for Hamilton?

HCSM: The Musical. Social media has played an influential role in some of the most gripping, hand-wringing ethical dilemmas in healthcare. These campaigns, spontaneous and otherwise can ignite strong passions and inspire changes in policy as well as a mob mentality that can all to quickly dispense with the rule of law and turn their ire on individuals and families. It’s also capable of generating an enormous of support for individuals and groups. A family’s negotiations with a children’s hospital to get their developmentally disabled child an organ transplant led the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network that manages organ transplant policy to permanently change a rule to allow some children to be considered for adult lung transplants. There’s also the issue of compassionate use, illustrated by Chimerix. Although some campaigns have met with wild success, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, others backfire, like #NoBraDay. You’ll cry. You’ll laugh. You’ll live tweet it. Selfie sticks available at all concession stands.

Judy Faulkner: Turn off the Data. In homage to the most expensive Broadway production in history, this over-the-top musical, with fully detailed Harry Potter and Indiana Jones-style sets, builds to a crescendo of walled ecosystems designed to thwart data sharing and maximize profits, while still maintaining an air of mystique. But don’t expect to see it on the Great White Way or London’s West End. It’s got an exclusive, open-ended run in Verona, Wisconsin. Regardless, it’s gonna be EPIC!

Pfizer’s Irish Tax Holiday. Pfizer stared deeply into Allergan’s soul and thought it saw green in the Emerald Isle. But intrepid federal agents knew this was more than just a love story. Wes Anderson directs this quirky comedy-drama.

Photo: Joshua Blake/Getty Images