NY Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission Sue Martin Shkreli

January 28, 2020

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit filed against 2 former chief executive officers of Turing Pharmaceuticals, now known as Vyera Pharmaceuticals: “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, currently serving a 7-year sentence in federal prison for securities fraud, a crime that took place before the launch of Vyera, and his business partner Kevin Mulleady.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit filed against 2 former chief executive officers (CEOs) of Turing Pharmaceuticals, now known as Vyera Pharmaceuticals: “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, currently serving a 7-year sentence in federal prison for securities fraud, a crime that took place before the launch of Vyera, and his business partner Kevin Mulleady.

According to a press release, the lawsuit, brought by the Office of the New York Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission, charges the 2 former CEOs with “stifling competition to protect the exorbitant, monopolistic pricing of the drug Daraprim (pyrimethamine)…despite Vyera Pharmaceuticals being the only FDA-approved source of the medication, Shkreli and Vyera raised the price of the drug by more than 4000% overnight, to $750 per pill, after they purchased the rights to Daraprim in August 2015.”

Daraprim treats toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease which could be life-threatening to those with compromised immune systems, including individuals with HIV and children born to mothers with the disease. No generic version of the drug has ever been sold in the United States.

Along with charges of antitrust violations, the lawsuit proposes a lifetime ban for Shkreli and Mulleady from the pharmaceutical industry and for the company to provide monetary relief to the alleged victims of the company’s conduct, CNBC reports.

The lawsuit comes after the Office of the New York Attorney General opened an investigation into the company. It alleges “Vyera anticipated that its decision to increase the price of Daraprim by more than 4000% would likely encourage entry into the market by other firms, so the pharmaceutical company took specific actions to impede and delay entry by competitors and preserve its monopoly over profits.”

One alleged preventive action taken by the company was restricting the sales and distribution of Daraprim, with the aim of stopping generic drug makers from buying enough of the medication to conduct tests so they could “market so-called bioequivalent medications,” according to CNBC. Another is that Vyera blocked access to one of Daraprim's key ingredients.

Shkreli told employees at Vyera that they "should 'do everything' [they] could to prevent a generic company from obtaining samples of Daraprim, because preventing generic competition would make Daraprim a '$600 million asset . . . in perpetuity,'" according to the filing.