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‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Claims He Has to Be Let Out of Prison Because of His COVID-19 Research

When “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli made his case about curing the coronavirus to the world via scientific paper a few weeks ago, it was definitely good for a few laughs. Now, though, it appears Shkreli was serious. In what appears to be meant as a move utterly bereft of irony, Shkreli filed a motion in federal court Wednesday requesting “compassionate release.” If successful, it would mean that Shkreli would be permitted to spend the remainder of his 41-month sentence on home confinement — and by “home confinement” we mean hanging with his fiancée at her Manhattan apartment.

Shkreli is serving a 7-year sentence for security fraud in a low-security federal penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. In early April, Shkreli published a paper online calling the industry response to COVID-19 “inadequate” while claiming that as “a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur” he is uniquely suited to find a cure.

Now, Shkreli is trying in earnest to convince a federal judge that a reprieve from prison is our only chance to stop the novel coronavirus in its tracks. According to the petition, Shkreli has already spent “countless hours” researching coronavirus and has even “been conducting significant research into developing molecules to inhibit the coronavirus RdRP protein and he would continue to do so if released.” What’s more, “One company is prepared to begin working on clinical trials of Mr. Shkreli’s work within weeks,” promised Shkreli’s legal team.

According to the filing, Shkreli petitioned the prison warden for this release last week, but was denied. However, Shkreli pointed to the warden’s classification of him as “low risk” for committing crimes upon release.

The filing ended on a grim note, warning that if Shkreli isn’t successful in obtaining compassionate release, “It is likely that he will soon be exposed to the virus and potentially become critically ill or die.”

[Image via Drew Angerer and Getty Images.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos