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Friday, January 21, 2022

Shkreli ordered to refund $64M banned from pharma biz

Michael R. by Sisak and Jennifer Peltz | The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Martin Shkreli will have to return $64.6 million in profits he and his former company gained from raising prices and monopolizing the market for a life-saving drug, a federal judge ruled Friday, while The provocateur from the pharmaceutical industry, also barred the imprisoned ex-CEO. for the rest of his life.

US District Judge Dennis Cote’s ruling came several weeks after a seven-day bench trial in December, in which Cote said that recordings of conversations showed Shkreli continued to control the company, Vyra Pharmaceuticals LLC, from behind bars and generics. Discussed ways to thwart versions. Its attractive drug, Daraprim.

“Shkreli was not a side player, or a ‘distant, unrelated’ beneficiary of Vera’s plan,” Cote wrote in the 135-page opinion. “He was the mastermind of its illegal conduct and was primarily responsible for it throughout the years.”

The Federal Trade Commission and seven states brought a case against a man known in the media as “Pharma Bro” in 2020 after he was sentenced to prison for an unrelated securities fraud scheme.

“‘Envy, greed, lust, and hatred,’ not only ‘isolate’, but they apparently inspired Mr. Shkreli and his partner to illegally raise the price of a life-saving drug because Americans’ lives are in the balance. hung up,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said, advancing the written statement in reference to the Wu-Tang clan, whose album of sorts Shkreli had to fork over to meet court debt.

“But Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is not a pharma brother.”

Messages seeking comment were left with Shkreli’s lawyers.

Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals — later Vera — when it raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill in 2015 after acquiring exclusive rights to the decades-old drug. It treats a rare parasitic disease that occurs in pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.

Shkreli defended the decision as capitalism at work, saying that insurance and other programs ensured that those who needed the Daraprim would eventually receive it.

But the move sparked outrage from the medical community to Congress and was a rare source of bipartisan agreement on the 2016 presidential campaign trail, where Democrat Hillary Clinton called it price-setting and future President Donald Trump, a Republican, called Shkreli. Goes “a spoiled brat.”

Shkreli eventually offered to close the hospitals in half – still amounting to a 2,500% increase. But patients usually spend most of the week after returning home, so they and their insurers still face a cost of $750 per pill.

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Shkreli resigned as Turing’s CEO in 2015, a day after he was arrested on securities fraud charges related to two failed hedge funds before venturing into the pharmaceutical industry. He was convicted of lying to investors and defrauding them out of millions and is serving a seven-year sentence in a federal prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, and is due to be released in November.

The FTC and seven states – New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia – allege in their case that Vira increased the price of Daraprime to prevent other companies from making it cheaper and illegally “competitive”. a web of restrictions”. normal version. Among other things, he alleged, Vyra blocked access to a key ingredient for the drug and for data companies would like to evaluate the drug’s market potential.

Vyra and its parent company, Phoenix AG, settled last month, agreeing to provide consumers with relief of up to $40 million over 10 years and to make Daraprim available to any potential generic competitor at the cost of producing the drug. Vera’s former CEO Kevin Muledi agreed to pay $250,000 in breach of the agreement, which barred him from working for a pharmaceutical company for seven years.

Shkreli prosecuted but opted not to attend the proceedings, instead submitting a written affidavit that served as his testimony.

The trial record contained evidence that Shkreli remained in regular contact with company officials even after he was in prison. A spreadsheet kept by an executive showed more than 1,500 contacts with Shkreli between December 2019 and July 2020.

The record also included a recording of Shkreli’s talks from prison in which he discussed his control of Vera, saying that he “has no problem shooting everyone”, claiming that he had no problem with how he controlled the board. did, and compared himself to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and the pharmaceutical company. Social media giant.

In one recording, Shkreli said, “Zuckerberg “just owns that thing, and that’s how it is.” You can’t “go in there and tell Zuckerberg what to do.”

In 2019, Shkreli was briefly sent to solitary confinement after prison authorities found him using a banned smartphone to conduct business.

“Whether he used a smuggled phone or an authorized prison phone, he kept in touch with Vyra’s management and exercised his power over Vyra as its largest shareholder,” Cote wrote.

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