Martin Shreli banned from pharmaceutical industry for life

Martin Shreli banned from pharmaceutical industry for life

Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli leaves the U.S. District Court after being convicted of securities fraud in Brooklyn borough of New York City, August 4, 2017. REUTERS Carlo Allegri REUTERS

WASHINGTON, Jan 14, Reuters - A U.S. judge on Friday barred Martin Shreli from the pharmaceutical industry for life and ordered him to pay $64.6 million after he raised the price of the drug Daraprim and fought to block generic competitors.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled after a trial in Manhattan in which the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and seven states accused Shreli, the founder of Vyera Pharmaceuticals, of using illegal tactics to keep Daraprim rivals out of the market.

Shreli drew notoriety in 2015 after hiking Daraprim's price overnight to $750 per tablet from $17.50. The drug treats toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that threatens people with weakened immune systems.

In a 130-page decision, Cote blamed Shreli for creating two companies, Vyera and Retrophin Inc, designed to monopolize drugs so he could profit on the backs of patients, doctors and distributors.

She said that the Daraprim scheme was particularly heartless and coercive, and a lifetime industry ban was needed because of the real danger that Shreli could become a repeat offender.

The judge wrote that Shreli's anticompetitive conduct at the expense of the public health was flagrant and reckless. He is unrepentant. Barring him from the opportunity to repeat that conduct is nothing if not in the interest of justice. After the ruling, FTC Chair Lina Khan called it a just outcome. Shreli's lawyers didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.

Shreli is serving a seven-year prison sentence for securities fraud. He did not attend the trial last month.

Vyera was founded in 2014 as Turing Pharmaceuticals and acquired Daraprim in 2015 from Impax Laboratories Inc.

Regulators accused Vyera of protecting its dominance of Daraprim by ensuring that generic drugmakers could not obtain samples for cheaper versions, and keeping potential rivals from buying a key ingredient.

The seven states that were a part of the FTC case included California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.