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“Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli banned for life from the pharmaceutical industry and ordered to pay nearly $65 million

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“Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli banned for life from the pharmaceutical industry and ordered to pay nearly $65 million

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Martin Shkreli, who has been widely criticized as a ‘pharma bro’ for raising the price of a life-saving AIDS drug, was banned for life from the pharmaceutical industry on Friday after a federal court found the former imprisoned leader had engaged in illegal and monopolistic behavior.

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

A lawyer for Mr. Shkreli did not 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 expected to be released in 2023.

Vyera Pharmaceuticals bought the exclusive rights to the antiparasitic drug Daraprim for $55 million in 2015 and raised its price to $750 a pill from $17.50 a pill, according to court documents. The company also prevented its competitors from creating generic versions. The 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 he 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 a ‘an auction. In July, the US government said it had sold the album to cover the balance of the $7.4 million forfeiture that a judge had ordered Mr Shkreli to pay during 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 hatred’ don’t just ‘separate’, but they clearly motivated Mr. Shkreli and his partner to illegally raise the price of a life-saving drug while the lives of Americans were at stake,” Ms. James said in a statement Friday, quoting words from the Wu-Tang Clan. “But Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is no longer a Pharmacy Brother.”

The federal court found Mr. Shkreli personally liable as he controlled and implemented Vyera Pharmaceuticals’ anti-competitive and monopolistic schemes. That scrutiny continued even after he resigned 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 in his business, court records show.

“Shkreli was the main actor in this anti-competitive scheme,” the court said. “It was his idea and he drove it every step of the way.”

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

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

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

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Appeared in the print edition of January 15, 2022 under the title “Shkreli banished from the pharmaceutical industry”.

“Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli banned for life from the pharmaceutical industry and ordered to pay nearly $65 million

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