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‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli is sued by health insurers after hiking the price of HIV medication

Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli is being sued by health insurers for more than $100 million after hiking the price of HIV medication Daraprim by 4,100 percent. 

The suit, filed in New York district court Thursday, accuses the convicted pharmaceutical executive and his companies, Vyera Pharmaceuticals and Phoenixus AG, of ‘schem[ing] to monopolize the U.S. market’. 

Shkreli is currently serving an unrelated seven-year prison sentence for a 2017 conviction for lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he ran, withdrawing more money from those funds than he was entitled to get, and defrauding investors in a drug company, Retrophin, by hiding his ownership of some of its stock. 

He had first gained notoriety by buying the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat an infection that occurs in some AIDS, malaria and cancer patients and raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

Now, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota say he stopped a generic version of the life saving treatment from reaching the market for years as part of anti-competitive practices. 

It marks the first time a private company has taken action against Shkreli over the price hike; he is being sued by the U.S. government over the matter, Insider reports.

Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli is being sued by health insurers for a nine figure sum after hiking the price of HIV medication Daraprim by 4,100 percent

Shkreli had first gained notoriety by buying the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat an infection that occurs in some AIDS, malaria and cancer patients and raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill

Shkreli had first gained notoriety by buying the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat an infection that occurs in some AIDS, malaria and cancer patients and raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill

The suit alleges: ‘Publicly, defendants claimed they welcomed generic competition, calling it a ‘great thing’. 

‘But in private, defendants blocked competitors from performing generic testing through contractual restrictions that forbade distributors and other purchasers from selling Daraprim to generic companies.’ 

Dr. Craig Samitt, the chief executive at Blue Cross of Minnesota, said: ‘Drug companies need to be held accountable for their role in making sure health care costs are sustainable for all.’

The suit adds: ‘While incarcerated, defendant Shkreli has continued to direct Defendants’ operations, communicating with Vyera executives and Phoenixus’s board of directors…via a contraband cellphone and e-mail and telephone services managed by the Bureau of Prisons.

‘This lawsuit challenges Defendants’ scheme to monopolize the U.S. market for Daraprim—an essential, life-saving drug used in the treatment of toxoplasmosis—through an array of anticompetitive conduct that successfully thwarted generic competition for years and continues to cause supracompetitive prices to this day.’ 

Now, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota say he stopped a generic version of the life saving treatment from reaching the market for years as part of anti-competitive practices

Shkreli was ordered to forfeit $7.3 million as part of his unrelated prison sentence and is due to be released from prison in September 2023.

He is also known for attacking critics on social media and offering a bounty to anyone who could give him one of Hillary Clinton’s hairs.  

Shkreli hit headlines again at the end of last year after a former Bloomberg  journalist quit her job and left her husband to be.

Christie Smythe claims she fell in love with Shkreli while covering his white collar crimes for work.

The 38-year-old shared details of their romance in Elle in December after being cut off by Shkreli who, in a statement, said he ‘wishes her well’.

In January she revealed the pair had reconciled.   

Shkreli hit headlines again at the end of last year after a former Bloomberg journalist quit her job and left her husband to be. Christie Smythe claims she fell in love with Shkreli while covering his white collar crimes for work

Shkreli hit headlines again at the end of last year after a former Bloomberg journalist quit her job and left her husband to be. Christie Smythe claims she fell in love with Shkreli while covering his white collar crimes for work

Despite his reputation and crimes, Smythe said she fell hopelessly in love over the next few years after she started covering Shrkreli for work in early 2015, when she broke the news of his arrest for securities fraud. 

Smythe quit her job at Bloomberg and began to visit him in prison and defending him on Twitter, until their relationship ‘finally turned romantic’ after he was sentenced in 2018. 

Since then, she says she has frozen her eggs to be able to have a family with Shkreli, 37, when he gets out of prison. They’ve never slept together and have only been able to hug or kiss briefly in prison. 

Smythe also hasn’t been able to see him for more than a year but she says she is ‘happier than ever’ and willing to wait for him – even though he isn’t speaking to her.

‘I fell down the rabbit hole. I’m happy here. I feel like I have purpose,’ she said.    

A federal judge last month rejected Shkreli’s second request to be let out of prison early.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto showed skepticism about his claim that mental health issues have weakened his immune system and made him more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus.

In a 12-page ruling Matsumoto sais that Shkreli again failed to demonstrate extraordinary and compelling factors that would require a sentence modification. 

Matsumoto, the same judge that ruled against Shkreli in May, said the 37-year-old presented no evidence to support his claims and that a mental health practitioner who evaluated him found him to be stable.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto rejected his claim that his deteriorating mental health justified compassionate release

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto rejected his claim that his deteriorating mental health justified compassionate release

Matsumoto also rejected the argument that Shkreli should be let out because coronavirus-related lockdowns were impeding his ability to communicate with the lawyers representing him in a civil lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. 

Matsumoto noted that Shkreli recently had a two-hour Zoom session with his lawyers, as well as several phone calls up to an hour in length.

Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment.

The low-security prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, where Shkreli is locked up has seen an increase in coronavirus cases among inmates and staff, with 26 inmates and 14 staff members currently testing positive.

Prosecutors said that, as of January 6, there were no positive cases in Shkreli’s housing unit. In her ruling, Matsumoto wrote that Shkreli is a ‘relatively young and healthy man’ and won’t be at high risk of severe complications if he were to contract the disease.

In his original request for compassionate release, Shkreli asked to be let out of prison for three months to put his background ‘as a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur’ to work researching a coronavirus treatment ‘under strict supervision.’

Matsumoto rejected that, relaying concerns of probation officials that Shkreli’s claim that he could develop a cure for coronavirus that ‘so far eluded the best medical and scientific minds in the world working around the clock’ is ‘delusional self-aggrandizing behavior.’

Shkreli is currently serving an unrelated seven-year prison sentence for a 2017 conviction for lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he ran, withdrawing more money from those funds than he was entitled to get, and defrauding investors in a drug company, Retrophin, by hiding his ownership of some of its stock

Shkreli is currently serving an unrelated seven-year prison sentence for a 2017 conviction for lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he ran, withdrawing more money from those funds than he was entitled to get, and defrauding investors in a drug company, Retrophin, by hiding his ownership of some of its stock


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