‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli’s lifetime drug industry ban upheld

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By Dan Sears

Martin Shkreli, known for once hiking the price of a life-saving drug more than 4,000%, cannot return to the pharmaceutical industry after a federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld his lifetime ban.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said a lower court judge acted properly in imposing the ban because of Shkreli’s antitrust violations.

The case had been brought by the Federal Trade Commission, joined by New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Shkreli, 40, became notorious and gained the sobriquet “Pharma Bro” when, as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015, he raised the price of the newly-acquired antiparasitic drug Daraprim overnight to $750 per tablet from $17.50.

He later served more than four years in prison following his 2017 conviction for defrauding investors in two hedge funds and scheming to defraud investors in another drugmaker.

In January 2022, US District Judge Denise Cote imposed Shkreli’s lifetime ban and ordered him to repay $64.6 million, citing his “particularly heartless and coercive” tactics in monopolizing Daraprim and keeping generic rivals off the market.

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Martin Shkreli in 2017
Martin Shkreli served over four years in prison following his 2017 conviction for defrauding investors. REUTERS

Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, including in AIDS patients.

The appeals court rejected Shkreli’s arguments that Cote’s injunction was overbroad, and unconstitutionally chilled his free speech by preventing him even from using social media to discuss the pharmaceutical industry.

“Given Shkreli’s pattern of past misconduct, the obvious likelihood of its recurrence, and the life-threatening nature of its results, we are persuaded that the district court’s determination as to the proper scope of the injunction was well within its discretion,” the court said.


Activists protesting high drug prices in 2015.
Activists protest Shkreli’s raising if drug prices in 2015. AP

Shkreli’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a similar request.

Since his May 2022 release from prison, Shkreli has worked as a software developer and as a consultant for a law office.

The case is Federal Trade Commission et al v. Shkreli, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 22-728.

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