Pin It
Martin Shkreli
Via Wikimedia Commons

No one wants ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli’s help with coronavirus


Martin Shkreli, the self-proclaimed ‘pharma bro’ who once hiked the price of a critical Aids drug by 5000 per cent, has had his prison release request denied. The businessman was trying to get a pardon so he could work on developing a coronavirus vaccine. 

Shkreli is currently serving a seven year sentence for fraud, but asked to be released so he could go and do some laboratory work in his fiancé’s New York City apartment. Luckily for everyone, a federal judge wasn’t convinced.

“The court does not find that releasing Mr Shkreli will protect the public,” district judge Kiyo Matsumoto said, “even though Mr Shkreli seeks to leverage his experience with pharmaceuticals to develop a cure for COVID-19 that he would purportedly provide at no cost.”

Even Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, wasn’t surprised, telling the Associated Press he was “disappointed” with the decision, but that it was “not unexpected”. The 37-year-old’s probation officer described the release attempt as an example of Shkreli’s “delusional, self-aggrandising behaviour”. 

Brafman filed court papers last month asking authorities to release Shkreli for three months to work on a vaccine “under strict supervision”. In a research proposal posted online, Shkreli called the pharmaceutical industry’s response to the pandemic “inadequate”, adding that his background “as a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur, having purchased multiple companies, invented multiple new drug candidates” would make him a valuable research asset.

Shkreli rose to notoriety in 2015 after raising the price of a drug used to treat an infection that occurs in some Aids, malaria, and cancer patients from $13.50 to $750 per pill – a move that earned him the title of “the most hated man in America”. Two years later, the former CEO was charged with securities fraud, which led to his imprisonment and a $7.3 million fine.

Strangely, Shkreli is also known for buying the only copy of Wu-Tang’s 2015 album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which he purchased for $2 million. In a beautiful turn of events, he was ordered to hand it over to the feds after his arrest.