Shkreli's former company Vyera settles for $40M in antitrust case, but 'pharma bro' still faces his own trial

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Martin Shkreli's trial is slated to begin on Dec. 14. (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)

A fraud conviction and seven-year prison sentence haven’t spared “Pharma Bro” and Wu-Tang Clan enthusiast Martin Shkreli from a federal antitrust lawsuit tied to his former company’s infamous drug pricing scandal. Now, the pharmaceutical company formerly known as Turing has agreed to settle for $40 million.

Vyera Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay up to $40 million to settle charges that it engaged in anticompetitive practices to ward off generics and maintain “monopoly profits” from its more than 4,000% overnight price hike on the toxoplasmosis med Daraprim, according to a release from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Meanwhile, the litigation against Shkreli will continue, James' office said. His antitrust trial is slated to begin Dec. 14.

The settlement comes after James and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year filed a lawsuit against Shkreli and Vyera over the Daraprim pricing scheme. The lawsuit is separate from the 2017 fraud conviction that landed Shkreli in prison.

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The $40 million settlement should help “offset” the company's “ill-gotten gains,” James said. In addition, former Vyera CEO Kevin Mulleady has been temporarily barred “from almost any role at a pharmaceutical company,” James’ office said in a press release. The “seven-year ban” is a first for New York in an antitrust case, James’ office noted, and it’s meant to reflect the attorney general’s policy that "corporate executives who are personally and substantially involved with illegal schemes should be held accountable, not just the corporate entity.”

Mulleady also must limit his shareholdings in any pharma company to “nominal amounts” for 10 years.

“Vyera and Mulleady, along with Martin Shkreli, shamelessly engaged in illegal conduct that allowed them to maintain their exorbitant and monopolistic price of a life-saving drug—letting pharma bros get rich, while others paid the price,” James said in the release.

James and the FTC filed their lawsuit last January, accusing Shkreli and Vyera of a “comprehensive scheme” to stifle Daraprim generics, which included a “web of contractual restrictions” that stopped distributors from reselling the drug to generics makers, all in an effort to thwart the bioequivalence testing the FDA requires of companies developing copycat drugs.  

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The lawsuit also argued that Shkreli and Vyera limited access to Daraprim’s active pharmaceutical ingredient and imposed “data-blocking” agreements with distributors to prevent third-party reporting of the med’s sales.

Shkreli gained notoriety as the “most hated” man in America back in 2015 after he and Turing jacked up the price of Daraprim from $17.50 to $750 per pill. When controversy ensued, Shkreli doubled down and lashed out at critics. That same year, he spent $2 million to get his hands on the enigmatic Wu-Tang Clan album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin." He later handed the album over to U.S. prosecutors after he was convicted of defrauding investors.