FTC asks court to hold Martin Shkreli in contempt for launching new drug company

Shkreli received a lifetime ban from participating in the pharmaceutical industry last year.

Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Martin Shkreli, whom you may know as "Pharma Bro," launched a new company last year called "Druglike, Inc." Now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked a federal judge to hold him in contempt for failing to cooperate with the agency in its investigation to determine whether launching the company violates his lifetime industry ban. US District Court Judge Denise Cote imposed a lifetime ban on Shkreli that prohibits him from participating in the pharmaceutical industry early last year. Cote ruled that the former pharma exec orchestrated an illegal anticompetitive scheme to gain a monopoly over Daraprim, a life-saving anti-malarial and anti-parasitic drug.

After Shkreli's former company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, obtained the manufacturing license for Daraprim, it raised the drug's prices from $17.50 to $750 per tablet. Cote sided with the FTC in the antitrust lawsuit the agency filed against Shkreli in 2020 and ordered him to pay $64.6 million in damages, in addition to imposing a lifetime industry ban against him. Prior to Druglike's launch, Shkreli tried (and failed) to convince a judge to put the ban on hold, arguing that the public could benefit from his future contributions to the industry. Shkreli challenged the ban while he was serving time in federal prison after receiving a seven-year sentence in 2017 for defrauding investors. He was released from prison in May.

The FTC said it started asking Shkreli for a compliance report and access to relevant records, as well as asking him to sit for an interview regarding Druglike, in October 2022. However, the company co-founder kept on disregarding its "repeated requests." The agency also said that Shkreli has yet to pay any amount of his $64.6 million fine. It's now asking the court to order Shkreli to comply with its information requests within 21 days of its decision.

In a press release (PDF) for its launch, Druglike described itself as "a Web3 drug discovery software platform." The company said it's building a "decentralized computing network" that "provides resources for anyone looking to start or contribute to early-stage drug discovery projects." In a statement, Shkreli said "Druglike will remove barriers to early-stage drug discovery, increase innovation and allow a broader group of contributors to share the rewards."