A federal judge banned former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli from working in the drug industry

New York (AFP) - A federal judge banned Martin Shkreli for life from the pharmaceutical industry, ruling Friday that the former drug executive could again harm society by monopolizing important medications.

Shkreli, who has been serving a seven-year prison sentence on securities fraud, must also pay $64.6 million in damages to victims, said US District Judge Denise Cote, ruling on a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and six states.

“Banning an individual from an entire industry and limiting his future capacity to make a living in that field is a serious remedy and must be done with care and only if equity demands,” Cote wrote.

“Shkreli’s egregious, deliberate, repetitive, long-running and ultimately dangerous illegal conduct warrants imposition of an injunction of this scope.”

“The risk of recurrency here is real,” Cote said. “Shkreli has not expressed remorse or any awareness that his actions violated the law.”

Once dubbed “the most hated man in America,” Shkreli, 38, became infamous for suddenly raising the price of the HIV drug Daraprim in 2015 by 5,000 percent – from $13.50 a pill to $750.

Shkreli reached exclusive supply agreements for a key ingredient for Daraprim, delaying generic competition for at least 18 months, Cote wrote in the decision, which followed a December 2021 trial.

Shkreli’s company, Turing, was renamed Vyera, and settled with the FTC and other parties shortly before the trial, agreeing to pay $40 million in ill-gotten gains.

In a 135-page ruling, Cote said Shkreli continued to direct Vyera’s policies and choose executives even from prison.

“Whether he used a smuggled phone or the prison’s authorized phones, he stayed in touch with Vyera’s management and exercised his power over Vyera as its largest shareholder.”

Shkreli has been in prison since 2017 and is set to be released in October 2023, or one year earlier pending succesful completion of an early release program.