Martin Shkreli runs afoul of FTC for potentially skirting lifetime pharma ban

Less than a year after his release from a Pennsylvania prison, Martin Shkreli is taking flak from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over his “clear disregard for the law.”

The FTC on Friday asked a federal judge in the Southern District of New York to hold Shkreli in contempt, citing the ex-Turing CEO’s failure to hand over documents and sit for an interview as part of an investigation into whether his new company “Druglike” violates Shkreli’s lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry.

Shkreli and his former company Turing—now known as Vyera—rose to infamy back in 2015 after acquiring the rights to the old, lifesaving toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim. Shkreli and his compatriots jacked up the price of the medication from $17.50 to $750 per pill. When controversy ensued, Shkreli doubled down and lashed out at critics.

Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison back in 2018 on federal securities fraud charges separate from Turing’s Daraprim pricing fiasco.

Last January, meanwhile, about a month after Vyera inked a $40 million settlement to resolve allegations of anticompetitive Daraprim shenanigans, a federal judge ordered Shkreli to pay $64.4 million and imposed a lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry.

Shkreli appealed that verdict to no avail, whith Judge Denise Cote dismantling the “pharma bro’s” arguments blow by blow in February.

Shkreli and his lawyers, for their parts, argued portions of the injunction were “vague and overbroad,” according to court filings made public last year.

Fast forward to July 2022, some two months after Shkreli returned to the streets, when Shkreli co-founded Druglike. Druglike, which promises to provide broader access to computing programs for designing potentially therapeutic molecules, describes itself as a “Web3 drug discovery software platform” and “not a pharmaceutical company.”

But the FTC isn’t so sure about that, and it’s irked that Shkreli is making it harder to get to the bottom of things.

Shkreli is required to hand over information as part of the February 2022 order, the FTC pointed out in a release. The FTC first tried to invoke the order's compliance provisions in October, "but Shkreli has disregarded the agency’s repeated requests for him to provide a compliance report and access to relevant records, and to sit for an interview."

“Martin Shkreli’s failure to comply with the court’s order demonstrates a clear disregard for the law,” Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.

She added that the FTC would not hesitate to “deploy the full scope of its authorities to enable a comprehensive investigation into any potential misconduct.”

In addition to the bid for Shkreli to be held in civil contempt, the FTC wants the court to order Shkreli to comply with its information requests within 21 days of a decision.