In upholding Martin Shkreli's lifetime ban, judge rules any statement he makes about pharma could be a violation
A federal judge in New York has upheld the lifetime industry ban placed on Martin Shkreli last month after the ex-Pharma Bro appealed the decision.
Shkreli and his lawyers largely objected to the scope of the ban, arguing it was too vague and burdensome. The latest opinion Friday, however, essentially prevents Shkreli from making any public statements about the pharma industry at all.
In his appeal, Shkreli said the lifetime ban violated his First Amendment right to free speech and his Fifth Amendment rights in forcing him to sell his shares in Phoenixus AG, the parent company of Vyera Pharmaceuticals. He went further, saying the ban as previously written did not say whether or not he could take a job at an academic institution working with biopharmas.
Judge Denise Cote of New York’s Southern District rejected those claims, writing in no uncertain terms that any statement Shkreli makes about the pharma industry can be considered an attempt to improperly influence it, should a “reasonable person” deem it has that effect.
“While First Amendment rights deserve of great protection, Shkreli’s violations of the antitrust laws have lost for him the right to speak publicly about the pharmaceutical industry when such speech is uttered to influence the management or business of a Pharmaceutical Company,” Cote wrote in her 10-page opinion.
Among the provisions that were clarified: Shkreli cannot speak with friends who work at a pharma company and cannot write blog posts commenting on the pharma industry.
Such restrictions are notable because Shkreli engaged in anticompetitive activity while in prison, discussing business decisions over a contraband cell phone and the jail’s communications systems. He also ran a blog from prison.
Shkreli must also still pay back the $64.6 million as ordered in last month’s ruling.
Shkreli first gained notoriety in late 2015, when as CEO of then-Turing Pharmaceuticals, he raised the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim by more than 4,000% overnight. After later being convicted of defrauding Turing investors, seven state attorneys general brought a new case against him in 2020, alleging he worked from jail to keep Daraprim generics off the market.
Cote found Shkreli’s actions violated federal and state laws that prohibit anticompetitive conduct, saying Daraprim competition was delayed by at least 18 months. The $64.6 million Vyera and Shkreli must return represent the illicit profits from this scheme.
Additionally, in December, Vyera and Phoenixus AG were ordered to pay more than $40 million for blocking generic Daraprim access. Vyera was required to make Daraprim available to any potential generic competitor at list price and to provide prior notification of any planned pharmaceutical transaction valued at $25 million or more.