'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli banned from drug industry for life, ordered to pay nearly $65M
Attorney General Letitia James announced the judgment Friday
Martin Shkreli, the so-called "Pharma Bro" known for jacking up medicine prices, has been banned from the pharmaceutical industry for life and ordered to pay almost $65 million, according to New York’s top prosecutor.
Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday that a federal court in the Southern District of New York imposed the judgment after finding Shkreli violated state and U.S. monopoly laws.
James and the Federal Trade Commission sued Shkreli, his former company Vyera and a business partner Kevin Mulleady two years ago accusing him of "monopolizing" the life-saving drug Daraprim, which is used to treat a parasitic disease called toxoplasmosis. A slew of other states later joined the lawsuit.
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The illness usually has few symptoms in healthy people, but can be life-threatening for women who are pregnant or people with compromised immune systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It usually comes from eating undercooked meat or drinking contaminated water, and can be transmitted through the handling of kitty litter used by an infected cat.
For a long time, Daraprim was the only treatment with approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
When Shkreli and his firm purchased the rights to the drug in 2015 they jacked up the price by more than 4,000% -- increasing the cost for a single pill from $17.50 to $750. Generic versions did not reach the U.S. market until 2020.
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"‘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," James said in a statement, referencing Wu-Tang Clan lyrics after Shkreli bought a one-of-a-kind album from the hip-hop group. The government later sold it to recover some of Shkreli’s debt.
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The embattled former executive is also serving a seven-year prison term for securities fraud after losing millions of dollars from investors in bad trades and reimbursing them with profits from another drug company.
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The judgment comes on top of a previous $40 million judgment against Vyera.