‘Pharma Bro’ Company Vyera Settles Suit Over Drug Pricing
(Bloomberg) -- Vyera Pharmaceuticals LLC, the company once led by convicted “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, agreed to pay as much as $40 million to resolve a federal antitrust lawsuit over a 2015 drug-pricing scandal.
Under a settlement agreement, former Vyera Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mulleady will be barred “from almost any role at a pharmaceutical company for seven years,” Attorney General Letitia James, who led a group of states in the lawsuit, said in a statement Tuesday.
A joint motion outlining the deal was filed in federal court in Manhattan, where James and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit in January 2020. They alleged the company and the former executives violated antitrust law when they jacked up the price of a crucial drug by 4,000% overnight in 2015.
“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 statement.
Shkreli remains a defendant in the case and is set to go on trial Dec. 14. He is already serving a seven-year sentence for securities fraud committed while running two hedge funds, though the same drug -- Daraprim -- is at the center of both cases.
“Mr. Mulleady vehemently denies the claims against him, but recognizes that under the circumstances this resolution is best for him and the companies in order to move forward,” his lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said in an emailed statement. “With this matter behind him, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life and career.”
Shkreli started Turing Pharmaceuticals, now Vyera, in 2015. That’s when he acquired Daraprim, a once-affordable anti-infective for a sometimes-deadly parasitic infection. He then raised the price and used a complex web of contractual restrictions to block generic versions, according to the suit.
The company acquired the U.S. rights to Daraprim from the only existing supplier and immediately raised the price from $17.50 to $750 per tablet, the FTC and the states said in their suit.
“The selfish choices these defendants made put lives at risk, forcing patients, hospitals, and physicians to make difficult treatment decisions because they lacked access to a potentially life-saving medication,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who joined the suit, said Tuesday in a statement.
Shkreli, who taught himself biology, was convicted of defrauding investors in hedge funds he ran by lying to them about his track record and performance as well as a fraud scheme involving Retrophin Inc., a company he founded in 2011. He was ousted from Retrophin in 2014.
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