‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Banned for Life From Drug Industry, Ordered to Pay Nearly $65 Million

Martin Shkreli,

who was widely criticized as “pharma bro” for raising the price of a lifesaving AIDS drug, was banned for life from the pharmaceutical industry Friday after a federal court found that the imprisoned former executive engaged in illegal and monopolistic behavior.

Mr. Shkreli was also ordered to pay nearly $65 million in profits that he and his former company made from illegally boosting prices of the Daraprim drug. That figure is on top of the $40 million that Vyera Pharmaceuticals LLC, which Mr. Shkreli ran as chief executive when it was called Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, was ordered to pay in December in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

An attorney for Mr. Shkreli didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A jury convicted Mr. Shkreli in 2017 on federal securities-fraud charges involving two hedge funds he managed and a company he founded. He remains in federal custody and is currently scheduled to be released in 2023.

Vyera Pharmaceuticals purchased exclusive rights to antiparasitic drug Daraprim for $55 million in 2015 and raised its price to $750 a tablet from $17.50 a tablet, according to court documents. The company also blocked competitors from making generic versions. Public outcry over the company’s practices drew everyone from politicians to late-night TV hosts to weigh in at the time.

Mr. Shkreli also gained notoriety in 2015 when paid $2 million for the only existing copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album titled “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which he won at an auction. In July, the U.S. government said it had sold the album to cover the balance of the $7.4 million in forfeiture that a judge ordered Mr. Shkreli to pay at his 2018 sentencing.

New York Attorney General

Letitia James

and the FTC filed a lawsuit against Mr. Shkreli in 2020 and accused him of engaging in anticompetitive behavior that stifled competition by exorbitantly raising the price of Daraprim. Six other states later joined the lawsuit. Mr. Shkreli had previously said the price increases were in the interest of his investors.

“ ‘Envy, greed, lust, and hate,’ don’t just ‘separate,’ but they obviously motivated Mr. Shkreli and his partner to illegally jack up the price of a life-saving drug as Americans’ lives hung in the balance,” Ms. James said in a statement Friday, quoting a Wu-Tang Clan lyric. “But Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is a pharma bro no more.”

The federal court found Mr. Shkreli personally liable since he controlled and implemented Vyera Pharmaceuticals’ anticompetitive and monopolistic plans. That control continued even after he stepped down as the company’s chief executive and entered federal prison, the court said. Mr. Shkreli used a contraband phone in prison to communicate with others at his company, according to court records.

“Shkreli was the prime mover in this anticompetitive scheme,” the court ruling said. “It was his brainchild and he drove it each step of the way.”

The court said a lifetime ban from the drug industry was necessary because Mr. Shkreli has never expressed remorse or awareness that his actions violated the law.

“Without a lifetime ban, there is a real danger that Shkreli will engage in anti-competitive conduct within the pharmaceutical industry again,” the court ruling said.

Write to Joseph De Avila at [email protected]

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