'Pharma Bro' Is Making Headlines Again

FTC wants Martin Shkreli held in contempt for impeding probe into ban on working in industry
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2023 7:45 AM CST
FTC Wants Martin Shkreli Held in Contempt
Martin Shkreli attends a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 4, 2016.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

It's been awhile since Martin Shkreli dominated the headlines, but he appears to be making somewhat of a comeback after his release from prison last year. In January 2022, the former pharmaceuticals executive deemed "Pharma Bro" by the media was ordered by a federal judge to return nearly $65 million in profits he and his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals (now Vyera), had raked in by inflating the cost of the lifesaving drug Daraprim. US District Judge Denise Cote also banned Shkreli, who was convicted in 2017 of fraud, from ever working in the pharma industry again, either "directly or indirectly"—a ban that's at the center of a new complaint by the Federal Trade Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reports that on Friday, regulators from the FTC and multiple states filed a motion in federal court in the Southern District of New York asking a judge to hold Shkreli, now 39, in contempt for seemingly violating that ban through the establishment of a new company, Druglike, in July. A release from the company notes that Druglike is "'a Web3 drug discovery software platform co-founded by Martin Shkreli' that aims to revolutionize early-stage drug discovery," per the Hill. The FTC argued on Friday that Shkreli has been impeding its probe into exactly what's going on with Druglike—i.e., whether it would qualify as being a pharma industry firm—by not complying with requests for records or for a sit-down.

"Martin Shkreli's failure to comply with the court's order demonstrates a clear disregard for the law," the FTC's Holly Vedova says in a statement, promising that the agency "will not hesitate to deploy the full scope of its authorities to enable a comprehensive investigation into any potential misconduct." In its Friday filing, the FTC also said that Shkreli hasn't paid any of the $64.6 million he was ordered to pay back. His legal team takes issue with the agency's claims. "We think that this is a misunderstanding with the FTC," Shkreli attorney Brianne Murphy says, reiterating that Druglike isn't a drug company, but rather a software firm, per Reuters. (Read more Martin Shkreli stories.)

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