‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli freed from prison to halfway house

Former president Donald Trump called Shkreli a 'spoiled brat'

Martin Shkreli, the former Turing Pharmaceuticals executive, leaves court in 2017. AFP
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Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive convicted for deceiving and cheating investors, was freed on Wednesday from prison after serving part of a seven-year prison sentence.

His lawyer, Ben Brafman, as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Shkreli had been released early from a prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.

Shkreli, who earned the nickname “Pharma Bro” for his youth and flippant attitude, is known for buying the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, and raising its price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

Toxoplasmosis is a dangerous parasitic infection that can be passed from mother to infant and poses a significant threat to those with compromised immune systems, including patients with Aids, malaria and cancer.

Shkreli defended the decision as capitalism at work, saying insurance and other programmes ensured that people who need Daraprim would ultimately receive it.

During the campaign for the presidency in 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton called it price-gouging and future president Donald Trump, a Republican, called Shkreli “a spoiled brat”.

Shkreli eventually offered hospitals half off — still amounting to a 2,500 per cent increase. But patients normally take most of the weeks-long treatment after returning home, so they and their insurers still faced the $750-a-pill price.

After his release, Shkreli was moved to a halfway house overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ New York Residential Re-entry Management Office, the bureau said in a statement.

Shkreli was known for owning a rare, one-of-a-kind album by the Wu-Tang Clan which was sold to satisfy some of his court debts. US Marshals Service / AFP

The bureau said Shkreli’s projected release date from federal custody was September 14.

Shkreli was sentenced to the seven-year term after a 2017 conviction for lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he ran, skimming money for himself from those funds and defrauding investors in a drug company, Retrophin, by hiding his ownership of some of its stock. He was also ordered to forfeit $7.3 million.

He resigned as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals — later Vyera — in 2015, a day after he was arrested on securities fraud charges.

Earlier this year, he was ordered by US District Judge Denise Cote to return $64.6m in profits he and his former company had gained by raising the price of the drug. She also barred him from the pharmaceutical industry for life.

Before his incarceration, Shkreli would regularly attack critics on social media and once offered a cash prize to anyone who could give him one of Ms Clinton’s hairs.

He also was known for owning a rare, one-of-a-kind album by the Wu-Tang Clan which was sold to satisfy some of his court debts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: May 20, 2022, 4:04 AM