Federal court finds ex-executive in prison indulging in monopolistic behavior
Mr Shkreli’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
A jury indicted 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.
According to court documents, Vyera Pharmaceuticals bought the exclusive rights to the antiparasitic drug Daraprim for $55 million in 2015 and raised its price from $17.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. The company also barred competitors from making generic versions. Public outcry over the company’s practices attracted everyone from politicians to late-night TV hosts to weigh in at the time.
Mr. Shkreli also rose to prominence in 2015, when he paid $2 million for the only existing copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album entitled “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin”, which he won at an auction. In July, the US government said it had sold the album to cover the balance of $7.4 million that a judge ordered Mr Shkreli to pay on his 2018 sentence.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and the FTC filed suit against Shkreli in 2020, accusing him of engaging in anti-competitive behavior that stifled competition by excessively increasing the price of Daraprim. Six other states later joined the trial. Mr. Shkreli previously said that the price hike is in the interest of his investors.
“‘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 as Americans’ lives hang in the balance happened” Ms. James said in a statement Friday, quoting the Wu-Tang Clan’s song. “But Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is not a pharma brother.”
The federal court found Mr. Shkreli personally liable because he controlled and implemented Vira Pharmaceuticals’ anti-competitive and monopolistic plans. The court noted that this control continued even after the company’s chief executive stepped down and entered federal prison. According to court records, Mr Shkreli used a phone banned in prison to communicate with others in his company.
“Shkreli was the prime mover in this anti-competitive scheme,” the court ruling said. “It was his brainchild and he carried it every step of the way.”
The court said the life ban from the pharmaceutical industry was necessary because Mr Shkreli never expressed remorse or awareness that his actions violated the law.
“Without the lifetime ban, there is a real danger that Shkreli will again engage in anti-competitive conduct within the pharmaceutical industry,” the court ruling said.
Write Joseph de Avila [email protected] . Feather