NEW YORK (NEWS10) — State Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against a major pharmaceutical company—and its founding CEO, Martin Shkreli—for inflating the price and monopolizing the production of a life-saving drug.
Filing alongside the Federal Trade Commission, the state of New York is suing Vyera Pharmaceuticals—formerly Turing Pharmaceuticals—and two of its former CEOs, including “Pharma Bro” Shkreli. The suit alleges that they stifled competition for Daraprim after raising its price more than 4000%.
The pharmaceutical company “held this critical drug hostage from patients and competitors as they illegally sought to maintain their monopoly,” says James. “We won’t allow ‘Pharma Bros’ to manipulate the market and line their pockets at the expense of vulnerable patients and the health care system.”
Daraprim, also known as pyrimethamine, treats toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease associated with cleaning the cat box that can be lethal to immunocompromised individuals. Doctors prescribed the cheap, accessible, and unpatented Daraprim to treat toxoplasmosis in the U.S. for decades.
The only FDA-approved source of Daraprim, Shkreli’s company raised the price per pill to $750 overnight in 2015. After the price gouge, Shkreli altered distribution and limited access to impede the process of creating a generic version.
The suit seeks repayment of illegally obtained profits and a lifetime ban prohibiting Shkreli—and his former business partner, Kevin Mulleady—from working in pharmaceuticals.
Shkreli is a businessman, former hedge fund manager, and convicted felon who rose to notoriety in 2015. He earned the moniker Pharma Bro after he publicized an understanding of supply and demand that went viral for its classist and predatory nature. He was convicted of securities fraud and is currently serving a seven-year sentence.