'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli Ordered to Return $64.6M in Profits from Hiking Price of Lifesaving AIDS Drug
Martin Shkreli, a disgraced former hedge fund manager and pharmaceutical company CEO, has been ordered to return the profits he made off hiking the price of a lifesaving drug.
Shkreli, infamously known as "Pharma Bro," became the face of controversy in 2015 when Turing Pharmaceuticals — of which he was the CEO — obtained exclusive rights to the antiparasitic drug Daraprim and promptly raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750. Daraprim is known for treating a rare disease called toxoplasmosis that is especially destructive to cancer patients, pregnant women and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Not long after, Shkreli was further disgraced when he was arrested for deceiving investors in his previous role as a hedge fund CEO. He was eventually convicted on those fraud charges and in 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
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Now, Shkreli faces another blow from the justice system.
On Friday, a federal judge Denise Cote sided with the Federal Trade Commission and seven U.S. states — New York, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia — who raised a lawsuit against Shkreli for engorging the price of Daraprim.
"The Daraprim scheme was particularly heartless and coercive. Daraprim must be administered within hours to those suffering from active toxoplasma encephalitis," Cote wrote in an 135-page ruling obtained by PEOPLE. "Moreover, in the face of public opprobrium, Shkreli doubled down. He refused to change course and proclaimed that he should have raised Daraprim's price higher."
The states involved in the lawsuit requested that Shkreli be forced to pay back the profits he gained from "illegal conduct," while the FTC requested that he no longer be permitted to work in pharmaceutics.
The judge granted both requests, ordering him to return $64.6 million in excess profits to the states and permanently barring Shkreli from participating in the pharmaceutical industry "in any capacity," according to the ruling.
"Without a lifetime ban, there is a real danger that Shkreli will engage in anticompetitive conduct within the pharmaceutical industry again," Cote wrote. "Shkreli established two companies ... with the same anticompetitive business model: Acquiring sole-source drugs for rare diseases so that he could profit from a monopolist scheme on the backs of a dependent population of pharmaceutical distributors, healthcare providers, and the patients who needed the drugs."