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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Martin Shkreli’s Permanent Ban from Pharmaceutical Industry

Martin Shkreli on CNBC

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has affirmed the lifetime ban on Martin Shkreli, infamously known as “Pharma Bro,” from re-entering the pharmaceutical industry, as reported by Reuters. This decision follows a lower court’s ruling, which also required Shkreli to repay $64.6 million due to his antitrust violations. The case against Shkreli was initiated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and supported by several states, including New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Shkreli, 40, gained notoriety in 2015 while CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. He dramatically raised the price of Daraprim, an essential antiparasitic drug, from $17.50 to $750 per tablet overnight. This action sparked widespread outrage and brought intense scrutiny to pharmaceutical pricing practices. Shkreli’s legal troubles extended beyond this controversy, as he was convicted in 2017 for defrauding investors in two hedge funds and a drugmaker, resulting in a prison sentence of over four years.

In January 2022, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote imposed the ban on Shkreli, citing his ruthless tactics in monopolizing Daraprim and obstructing generic competitors. The appeals court has now dismissed Shkreli’s arguments that this injunction was excessively broad and infringed on his free speech rights, including his ability to discuss pharmaceutical topics on social media.

The court emphasized the likelihood of Shkreli’s past misconduct recurring and the severe implications of his actions on public health, particularly for life-saving medications. Shkreli’s lawyer, Kimo Peluso, criticized the sanctions as overly harsh and suggested a further appeal might be considered. Peluso also noted that the court hinted at the possibility of Shkreli requesting a modification or clarification of Judge Cote’s injunction.

Henry Liu, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, hailed the court’s decision as a victory for consumers needing affordable, critical medication. He emphasized that corporate executives could be held personally accountable for anti-competitive behavior.

Since his release from prison in May 2022, Shkreli has shifted his career to software development and consulting for a law office.