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FTC asks judge to hold Martin Shkreli in contempt for breaking pharma ban

The Federal Trade Commission has asked a judge to hold “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli in contempt of court for breaking a ban on starting any new drug companies.

Shkreli, who was released from prison last year, was given a lifetime ban “from directly or indirectly participating in any manner in the pharmaceutical industry” as part of a federal antitrust lawsuit against him.

Manhattan federal court Judge Denise Cote ruled in January 2022 that Shkreli illegally tried to maintain a monopoly on the life-saving drug Daraprim while imprisoned for an unrelated securities fraud case.

The court found that Shkreli, another individual executive, and the companies they founded, Vyera Pharmaceuticals, LLC, and Phoenixus AG had overseen a scheme that allowed them to increase the price of the drug from $17.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet.

In a court filing on Friday, the FTC stated that Shkreli announced the launch of his new company, “Druglike” in July and that it “appears to be involved in the drug industry.”

The filing included a Druglike press release in which it was described as “a Web3 drug discovery software platform co-founded by Martin Shkreli.”

“We started Druglike because in our experience, traditional drug discovery software is too difficult and expensive to use,” Shkreli is quoted as saying in the press release. “Druglike will remove barriers to early-stage drug discovery, increase innovation and allow a broader group of contributors to share the rewards.”

The FTC cited Shkreli’s launch of the company, and that he has failed to pay his $25m portion of a $64.6m judgement, as evidence he had violated the court’s orders in the case.

“Martin Shkreli’s failure to comply with the court’s order demonstrates a clear disregard for the law,” said Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

“The FTC will not hesitate to deploy the full scope of its authorities to enable a comprehensive investigation into any potential misconduct.”