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Martin Shkreli banned from pharma industry for illegal monopoly of life-saving drug

Rebecca Barnabi
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A federal court of appeals has upheld a court order that Virginia, the Federal Trade Commission and six other states won against a convicted felon who engaged in illegal and monopolistic behavior.

As the CEO of Vyera Pharmaceuticals, previously known as Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli engaged in an illegal scheme to maintain a monopoly over a lifesaving drug, Daraprim, after increasing its price by more than 4,000 percent.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the January 2022 decision of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, which found that Shkreli violated both federal and state laws. He is banned for life from the pharmaceutical industry and ordered to pay $64.6 million.

“Martin Shkreli’s actions weren’t just illegal – they were immoral. Dramatically overcharging for a lifesaving medication while actively preventing generic competition is taking advantage of individuals at their lowest, most desperate point. I’m pleased the Court agreed with us not once, but twice, and is holding him accountable,” Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said.

In August 2015, Vyera acquired Daraprim and increased the price dramatically overnight from $17.50 per pill to $750 per pill. At the time of Shkreli’s scheme, Daraprim was the only FDA-approved drug for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that poses serious and often life-threating consequences for individuals with compromised immune systems, including babies born to women infected with the disease and individuals with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Vyera, under Shkreli’s control, then engaged in anticompetitive conduct to delay and impede generic competition. The high price and distribution changes Shkreli made limited access to the drug, forcing many patients and physicians to make difficult and risky decisions for the treatment of a life-threatening disease.

After a seven-day trial in December 2021, the District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision and order largely agreeing with the states and the FTC. The Court’s decision found Shkreli liable on each of the claims presented, banned him for life from participating in the pharmaceutical industry in any capacity, and ordered him to pay the plaintiff states $64.6 million in disgorgement. Vyera and Mulleady also entered into an agreement that ended their illegal and monopolistic behavior, required the company to pay up to $40 million, and banned Mulleady from the pharmaceutical industry for seven years.

The decision by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirms the entirety of the Southern District’s decision. Citing “Shkreli’s pattern of past misconduct, the obvious likelihood of its recurrence, and the life-threatening nature of its results,” the Second Circuit determined that the Southern District acted properly by imposing its order against Shkreli.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.