‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Denied Prison Timeout To Work On COVID-19 Treatment

A federal judge has denied a request from Martin Shkreli — the smirking, price-gouging former drug company executive known as “Pharma Bro” — for a three-month prison release to research a COVID-19 treatment.

Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said in her ruling Saturday that she agreed with a probation report that described Shkreli’s plan as the same kind of “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior” that landed him in prison.

“The court does not find that releasing Mr. Shkreli will protect the public, even though Mr. Shkreli seeks to leverage his experience with pharmaceuticals to help develop a cure for COVID-19 that he would purportedly provide at no cost,” Matsumoto wrote.

Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, in 2017. 

Shkreli submitted a research proposal outlining his research strategy.

“Being released to the post-COVID world is no solace to even the incarcerated,” he wrote in the proposal. Shkreli boasted that he was “one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development.” 

The judge also ruled that Shkreli wouldn’t be released from his prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, for compassionate reasons linked to the increased risk of coronavirus in the close quarters of prison.

“Defendant is a healthy, 37-year-old man with no recent history of preexisting medical conditions that place him at higher risk for COVID-19 and its potentially life-threatening adverse effects, and he is confined in a facility where there are currently no cases of COVID-19,” she ruled.

Shkreli first rocketed to notoriety in 2015 when the company he founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the HIV drug Daraprim and raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750. That decision landed him in a congressional hearing, where he pleaded the Fifth and smirked at lawmakers. In 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018 for securities fraud linked to his management of two hedge funds and a drug company.

Matsumoto referred to Shkreli’s dismissive attitude while he was being investigated for his crimes as part of the reason for her decision.

“With regard to the nature and circumstances of his offenses, defendant intentionally deceived and manipulated individual and public investors, and before sentencing, made disparaging remarks about the government and the sentencing process that showed little regard for the rule of law,” she noted. 

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