Shkreli ordered to return 64 million dollars and barred from drug industry

14 January 2022, 20:04

Martin Shkreli
Martin Shkreli. Picture: PA

He defended the decision to inflate the price of a drug as ‘capitalism at work’.

A US judge has ordered Martin Shkreli to return 64.6 million US dollars (£47 million) in profits he and his company reaped from inflating the price of a life-saving drug and barred him from participating in the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of his life.

The ruling by US District Judge Denise Cote came several weeks after a seven-day bench trial in December.

The Federal Trade Commission and seven states brought the case in 2020 against the man dubbed in the media as “Pharma Bro”.

Martin Shkreli
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli (Susan Walsh/AP)

Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals — later Vyera — when it jacked up the price of Daraprim from 13.50 dollars to 750 dollars per pill, after obtaining exclusive rights to the decades-old drug in 2015.

It treats a rare parasitic disease that strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and Aids patients.

He defended the decision as capitalism at work and said insurance and other programmes ensured that people who need Daraprim would ultimately get it.

But the move sparked outrage from medical centres to Congress to the 2016 presidential campaign trail, where Hillary Clinton termed it price-gouging and future president Donald Trump called Shkreli “a spoiled brat”.

Shkreli eventually offered hospitals half off — still amounting to a 2,500% increase. But patients normally take most of the weeks-long treatment after returning home, so they and their insurers still faced the 750 dollars-a-pill price.

He resigned as Turing’s CEO in 2015, a day after he was arrested on securities fraud charges related to hedge funds he ran before getting into the pharmaceuticals industry. He was convicted and is serving a seven-year prison sentence.

Vyera Pharmaceuticals LLC was sued in federal court in New York by the FTC and seven states: New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

They alleged that Vyera hiked the price of Daraprim and illegally created “a web of anticompetitive restrictions” to prevent other companies from creating cheaper generic versions by, among other things, blocking their access to a key ingredient for the medication and to data the companies would want to evaluate the drug’s market potential.

Vyera and its parent company, Phoenixus AG, settled last month, agreeing to provide up to 40 million dollars in relief over 10 years to consumers and to make Daraprim available to any potential generic competitor at the cost of producing the drug.

Former Vyera CEO Kevin Mulleady agreed to pay 250,000 dollars if he violates the settlement, which barred him from working for a pharmaceutical company for seven years.

Shkreli proceeded to trial.

By Press Association

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