FTC's Case Against Martin Shkreli Goes to Trial on Dec. 14
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Now We Know When ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Will Face Trial That Could Lead to Pharmaceutical Industry Ban

Martin Shkreli Convicted Of Three Counts Of Securities Fraud

Ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli speaks to the press in front of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York with members of his legal team after the jury issued a verdict on Aug. 4, 2017.

Facing a little more than a year left of his seven-year securities fraud sentence, so-called “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli will face a civil trial later this year where state and federal regulators will try to permanently ban him from the pharmaceutical industry.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who will be hearing the case without a jury, set a bench trial date for Dec. 14.

In an order on Tuesday, Judge Cote ordered Shkreli’s counsel to confirm whether Shkreli will be present at his trial.

If so, she wants the parties to request any necessary writ of habeas corpus for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to transfer the 38-year-old from the Allenwood Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania to the Southern District of New York in lower Manhattan.

Shkreli’s civil litigation stems from his decision to jack up the price of the live-saving drug Daraprim 40-fold, an act that earned him national scorn and a cult following for his unapologetic defense of that hike.

At the time, Shkreli served as CEO of the company then-named Turing Pharmaceuticals, but regulators claim that the anticompetitive conduct continued after he went to prison and his company got a rebranding as Vyera.

“Daraprim is a lifesaving drug for vulnerable patients,” Gail Levine, the deputy director of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission, noted when unveiling the case in January 2020. “Vyera kept the price of Daraprim astronomically high by illegally boxing out the competition.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who also brought the case along with the FTC, echoed those sentiments at the time.

“Martin Shkreli and Vyera not only enriched themselves by despicably jacking up the price of this life-saving medication by 4,000 percent in a single day, but held this critical drug hostage from patients and competitors as they illegally sought to maintain their monopoly,” AG James wrote more than a year and a half ago. “We filed this lawsuit to stop Vyera’s egregious conduct, make the company pay for its illegal scheming, and block Martin Shkreli from ever working in the pharmaceutical industry again. We won’t allow ‘Pharma Bros’ to manipulate the market and line their pockets at the expense of vulnerable patients and the health care system.”

Citing reporting in the Wall Street Journal, regulators claim that Shkreli exercised “shadow power” over Vyera and its Swiss corporate parent Phoenixus from behind bars.

In June, Judge Cote found that Shkreli used a contraband phone behind bars to communicate with his associates, including Vyera executive Akeel Mithani and Kevin Mulleady, an owner and former director of Vyera.

The judge gave a light sanction for that violation.

When asked during a deposition earlier this year whether he had a cell phone in prison, Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to the ruling.

In late July, the U.S. government sold one of Shkreli’s once-prized but since-forfeited possessions: Wu Tang Clan’s bespoke album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.” The buyer’s identity is currently unknown.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.