Shkreli Once Again in Hot Water Over Pricey Drug

'Pharma Bro' sued by FTC, New York AG over Daraprim
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2020 3:09 PM CST
Shkreli Once Again in Hot Water Over Pricey Drug
In this Aug. 4, 2017, file photo, Martin Shkreli leaves federal court in New York while on trial for deceiving investors in a pair of failed hedge funds.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Martin Shkreli's original controversy is back in the headlines. The disgraced CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals first gained infamy back in 2015 when his company jacked the price of Daraprim, a lifesaving drug that treats the parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, by 5,000%. Then he went to prison over an unrelated fraud conviction. Now, he's being sued over that first scandal, the New York Times reports: The Federal Trade Commission and New York's attorney general say Vyera Pharmaceuticals (formerly Turing before changing its name in 2017), its parent company Phoenixus AG, and Shkreli and Kevin Mulleady (a friend of Shkreli's who is and has been involved in both companies), launched an "elaborate and anticompetitive scheme" to maintain a monopoly over Daraprim by blocking generics from entering the market. The suit seeks to ban Shkreli and Mulleady from the pharmaceutical industry for life, CNBC reports.

The suit says Vyera bought the rights to Daraprim in 2015 and quickly raised the $17.50 per tablet price tag to $750, knowing that doing so would attract interest from those looking to produce generic versions of the previously inexpensive and accessible drug (the only one approved by the FDA for toxoplasmosis), which is decades old and has no patent protection. But, per the suit, Vyera used contract restrictions and data-blocking agreements with its distributors to keep other companies from getting their hands on Daraprim to conduct tests, or from getting sales data or a key ingredient, per the Wall Street Journal. The suit alleges Shkreli continued to be involved in the scheme even from prison. The New York AG made reference to Shkreli's nickname in her statement about the suit: "We won’t allow 'pharma bros' to manipulate the market and line their pockets at the expense of vulnerable patients and the health care system," Letitia James said. Shkreli calls the suit "baseless." (More Martin Shkreli stories.)

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