Drug Development

UPDATED: Martin Shkreli, the obscene prankster of biotech, makes his final exit at KaloBios

Martin Shkreli is about as far as you can get from a likeable company representative. So we can only imagine the sigh of relief at KaloBios now that the bad boy of biotech has cashed out of his shares and will now be seen and heard of no more at the company he dragged into the spotlight.

Martin Shkreli at the Developments in the Prescription Drug Market: Oversight hearing, 2016

Martin Shkreli at the Developments in the Prescription Drug Market: Oversight hearing, 2016

In an SEC filing out Monday morning, Shkreli revealed that he no longer owns any stock in KaloBios, leaving CEO Cameron Durrant free and clear to run the company on a completely different set of ethics around product development and pricing.

In case you managed to miss this tawdry tale, Shkreli took over KaloBios last year as it was supposedly near bankruptcy. The former fund manager had seized the center ring of public attention when his other biotech, Turing, grabbed an ancient medicine called daraprim and jacked up the price by 5000%. Shkreli at one point said he would back down, but then promptly reneged on the promise, further inciting an online lynch mob. KaloBios wound up in Chapter 11 anyway after Shkreli was shackled and perp walked after being arrested on federal fraud charges.

Cameron Durrant, CEO KaloBios

Cameron Durrant, CEO KaloBios

After some months of struggle, Durrant brought KaloBios out of bankruptcy July 1, with $14 million in financing, a license to develop a drug for Chagas disease and plans to put one of the biotech’s antibodies back into the clinic. He had already tied up Shkreli’s ability to do much with the stock in any case, and the ever defiant figure was prohibited from trying to exercise any influence over the company.

That’s all a moot point now that Shkreli has relinquished his shares.

In an interview with Endpoints Monday morning, Durrant made no secret about how delighted he is by Shkreli’s exit. And he hopes that little KaloBios can make a big difference in coming up with a new way for the industry to handle drug pricing, citing Turing, Valeant and now Mylan for the way they poked a hornet’s nest of public outrage.

“I think it is disgraceful what those companies have done,” said Durrant. Big price hikes on old drugs “may be legal but I think the spirit of it is very distasteful.” Transparency on pricing will now become paramount.  “I think the notion that companies can be opaque with what goes into pricing is over.”

You can expect KaloBios to move fast, he adds, with plans to hammer out a regulatory pathway for benznidazole in the treatment of Chagas disease while they enroll patients in a Phase I study of lenzilumab for chronic myelomonocytic leukemia and an effort to regain compliance with the SEC in order to relist on a national exchange.

Shkreli sold his remaining stake in the company to new investors, which Durrant wasn’t able to disclose.

Shkreli has been back in the spotlight with the new scandal over Mylan’s 500% price hike on the EpiPen. While a torrent of hate was directed at Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, Shkreli was ready to leap to the company’s defense, saying that insurance companies could always pay the higher price.

That led to a comedy sketch by Stephen Colbert mocking Shkreli as a douche. Shkreli responded on Twitter with a crude reference to a sex act that Colbert could perform on him, which was a perfect opening for a joke.

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John Carroll, Editor and Co-Founder

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