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Martin Shkreli ordered to return nearly $65 million

CBS News logo CBS News 3 days ago Tori B. Powell
Jury Deliberations Continue In Martin Shkreli Securities Fraud Trial © Drew Angerer / Getty Images Jury Deliberations Continue In Martin Shkreli Securities Fraud Trial

A federal court has ordered convicted pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli to return $64.6 million worth of profits he made from hiking the price of a lifesaving drug, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday. The court also said the so-called "Pharma Bro" is banned for life from participating in the pharmaceutical industry.

"'Envy, greed, lust, and hate,' don't just 'separate,' but they obviously motivated Mr. Shkreli and his partner to illegally jack up the price of a life-saving drug as Americans' lives hung in the balance," James, who, along with the Federal Trade Commission and seven states, filed the lawsuit against Shkreli in 2020, said in a statement Friday. "But Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is a pharma bro no more."

In 2015, Shkreli's company Turing Pharmaceuticals — later renamed Vyera — bought the drug Daraprim, which was then the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat a parasitic disease that occurs in some AIDS, malaria and cancer patients. Under Vyera, the lifesaving drug shot up in price by more than 4,000% overnight, and the company changed its distribution method to delay and impede generic competition, James said.

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The court agreed that Shkreli engaged in "illegal and monopolistic behavior when he served as CEO of Vyera Pharmaceuticals." Shkreli's behavior brought him and his companies a profit of more than $64 million. 

"Shkreli was the prime mover in this anticompetitive scheme," U.S. District Judge Denise Cote's Friday ruling stated. "It was his brainchild and he drove it each step of the way."

The ruling comes a month after current and former Vyera employees, among others, testified at a seven-day bench trial on the scheme, James said. 

In 2017, a jury found Shkreli guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison, ordered to pay a $7.3 million forfeiture judgment, $388,000 in restitution and a $75,000 fine. 

In 2019 he was reportedly in solitary confinement after using a contraband mobile phone in prison to run his pharmaceutical company. In 2020 he was denied a request to be released from prison by a judge who called him "delusional," and in 2021 he was denied a second time. 

"The rich and powerful don't get to play by their own set of rules," James said. "It seems that cash doesn't rule everything around Mr. Shkreli."

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