Retrophin no more: Shkreli's legacy disappears as former company becomes Travere Therapeutics
Retrophin is shedding the last of its ties to convicted “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli and his failed neurological drug — with a name change.
“That name doesn’t reflect who we are today, and the role that we want to play going into the future. So we felt that it was befitting to have a name that every single one of us came to work and can identify with,” CEO Eric Dube told Endpoints News.
The biotech, which was founded in 2011 by Shkreli, now goes by Travere Therapeutics, inspired by the Latin roots of the words “path” (tractus) and “truth” (ver). Dube said the rebranding has been in the works since he joined the company last year, and represents “the tireless journey that many rare disease families embark on to reach a diagnosis and ultimately a treatment or cure.”
A few weeks before it took a new identity, Retrophin agreed to buy low-profile Orphan Technologies for up to $517 million, bolstering its rare disease pipeline with OT-58 for the treatment of classical homocystinuria, a condition that’s triggered by insufficient levels of the enzyme cystathionine beta synthase. And Dube is expecting to read out Phase III data for its candidate sparsentan in focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and IgA nephropathy in Q1 and Q3 of next year, respectively.
“Next year is going to be transformational for us with the two Phase III data readouts,” Dube said. “We also expect to have a data readout from our Phase I/II from the asset from Orphan Technologies and we’ll continue to prepare for the launch of sparsentan assuming success from our Phase IIIs.”
Last August, Retrophin’s lead drug — which was co-invented by Shkreli for a rare neurological disease called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration — flunked the primary and key secondary endpoints in a pivotal Phase III trial. Upon the news, the company’s stock plunged 30% ahead of the bell, knocking $250 million off the market cap.
Retrophin gave Shkreli the boot back in 2014, shortly after he bought the rights to Thiola then jacked the price by 2,000%, according to an FTC complaint. After being ousted from the company, he went on a “war path,” his successor Stephen Aselage testified, per a CNBC report. Aselage said Shkreli threatened to “harm the company and damage the reputations of the people in the company.”
The biotech filed a lawsuit against Shkreli in 2015, which the infamous biotech exec followed with a countersuit. In 2019, he tacked on another accusation against three board directors seeking $30 million in damages. Retrophin paid an undisclosed amount to Shkreli later that year to settle all of the disputes, and sever its ties with the “Pharma Bro,” who’s currently serving a 7-year sentence for defrauding investors of his hedge funds. Part of the case involved Shkreli’s use of Retrophin stock to pay off those investors.
While Retrophin’s name has changed, Dube said its mission remains the same: “being dedicated exclusively to rare disease and developing and delivering therapies for rare disease.” He said being diagnosed with a rare cancer in his early 30s changed his perspective on the field, and while he was lucky to have caught it early enough, many others aren’t.
“I was very fortunate, having now been a survivor when there was not an approved therapy,” he said. “But the other thing that that experience taught me is that time really matters … I know that the work that we do has a direct impact on our patients and so we have to work with very good discipline and with speed.”