U.S. estimate orders ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli pay back $64M, bars him …

Martin Shkreli must return $64.6 million US in profits he and his former company reaped from raising the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, a federal estimate ruled Friday while also barring the provocative, imprisoned ex-CEO from participating in the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of his life.

U.S. District estimate Denise Cote’s ruling came several weeks after a seven-day bench trial in December. The Federal Trade Commission and seven states brought the case in 2020 against the man dubbed “Pharma Bro” in the media.

Shkreli’s lawyer did not closest respond to a request for comment.

Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals — later Vyera — when it jacked up the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 US per pill after obtaining exclusive rights to the decades-old drug in 2015. It treats a scarce parasitic disease that strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.

He defended the decision as capitalism at work and said insurance and other programs ensured that people who need Daraprim would ultimately get it.

Daraprim treats a scarce parasitic disease that strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients. (David Gray/Reuters)

But the move sparked outrage from medical centres to Congress to the 2016 presidential campaign trail, where Hillary Clinton termed it price-gouging and future president Donald Trump called Shkreli “a spoiled brat.”

Shkreli ultimately offered hospitals half off — nevertheless amounting to a 2,500 per cent increase. But patients typically take most of the weeks-long treatment after returning home, so they and their insurers nevertheless faced the $750-a-pill price.

He resigned as Turing’s CEO in 2015, a day after he was arrested on securities fraud charges related to hedge funds he ran before getting into the pharmaceuticals industry. He was convicted and is serving a seven-year prison sentence.

Vyera Pharmaceuticals LLC was sued in federal court in New York by the FTC and seven states: New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

They alleged that Vyera hiked the price of Daraprim and illegally produced “a web of anti-competitive restrictions” to prevent other companies from creating cheaper generic versions by, among other things, blocking their access to a meaningful ingredient for the medication and to data the companies would want to estimate the drug’s market possible.

Vyera and its parent company, Phoenixus AG, settled last month, agreeing to provide up to $40 million US in relief over 10 years to consumers and to make Daraprim obtainable to any possible generic competitor at the cost of producing the drug.

Former Vyera CEO Kevin Mulleady agreed to pay $250,000 US if he violates the settlement, which barred him from working for a pharmaceutical company for seven years.

Shkreli proceeded to trial.

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