‘Pharma Bro’ banned from pharma for life, ordered to return $64M

Jan. 17, 2022

Imprisoned “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has been banned from the pharma industry and ordered to return the $64.6 million in profits he and his former company made after gouging the price of a life-saving drug, ruled U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.

The federal judge’s ruling came several weeks after a seven-day bench trial in December where recordings showed Shkreli maintained control over the company, Vyera Pharmaceuticals (formerly Turing Pharmaceuticals), from prison.

Shkreli was serving a seven-year sentence for unrelated securities fraud when he was indicted in 2020 for running a scheme to monopolize the market and block generic rivals of the drug Daraprim.

In 2015, the Pharma Bro earned a new moniker as pharma’s most hated CEO after raising the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill overnight, an increase of 5,000%. Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis and prevent infections in HIV or transplant patients. The drug is used primarily by cancer patients, pregnant women and AIDS patients.

In 2019, it was reported that Shkreli was running his former drug company, Phoenixus — Vyera’s holding company — from his prison cell via a contraband smartphone.

In 2020, he was accused of using the phone and email systems monitored by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to run his anticompetitive scheme. The Federal Trade Commission and seven states, New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, brought the case. They alleged Vyera hiked the price of Daraprim and illegally created a “web of anticompetitive restrictions,” preventing other companies from accessing a key ingredient for the medication and accessing market data, among other things.

In a settlement in December, Vyera and Phoenixus agreed to provide up to $40 million in relief over 10 years to consumers and to make Daraprim available to any potential generic consumer at the cost of producing the drug.

In the midst of his various misdeeds, Shkreli found time for love. In 2020, an Elle magazine profile detailed the relationship between Shkreli and the reporter who broke the news of his arrest, Christie Smythe. In a nine-month timespan in 2018, Smythe quit her job, moved out of her apartment and divorced her husband. After Shkreli heard about the article in Elle magazine, a perplexing profile where Smythe recounted how she fell for Shkreli while covering the federal fraud case against him, he broke up with her, according to Smythe.

Shkreli, who has been the source of several headlines over the years, was described as a “mastermind of [Vyera’s] illegal conduct” by Cote.

“Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is a pharma bro no more,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.