"Pharma Bro" Shkreli is commissioned to fix prices

Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, arrested for security fraud

The Federal Trade Commission accused Monday's former CEO of the pharmaceutical industry, Martin Shkreli and Vyera Pharmaceuticals, of restricting competition to maintain the monopoly on a life-saving drug.

Shkreli, who was nicknamed "Pharma Bro", is currently serving a seven-year sentence for security fraud. The FTC, along with the New York Attorney General, now said he had helped develop a "sophisticated anti-competitive system" to control the Daraprim market. The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by infection from a parasite in cat feces and contaminated food. It can be fatal to people with HIV / AIDS.

The former pharmaceutical company Kevin Mulleady and Phoenixus AG, the parent company of Vyera, are also named as defendants.

"Daraprim is a life-saving drug for vulnerable patients," said Gail Levine, deputy director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, in a statement announcing the complaint. "Vyera kept the Darapim price astronomically high by illegally excluding the competition."

According to the FTC, Vyera raised Daraprim's list price from $ 17.50 per table to $ 750 per table, an increase of more than 4,000%. The price increase "significantly affected access to care," the regulators said.

Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, arrested for security fraud
Martin Shkreli (C), CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, was evicted from law enforcement officers in New York City on December 17, 2015, for security fraud by the 26 Federal Plaza.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

The defendants tried to deter potential generic competitors "through restrictive distribution agreements" that prevented other drug companies from buying samples of Daraprim, the FTC said on Monday. The defendants also prevented competitors from accessing an important Daraprim ingredient, so the complaint alleged that they were unable to replicate the drug.

If the defendants had not acted illegally, consumers could have saved millions of dollars by buying generic versions of the drug, the complaint said. There is currently no generic version of the drug on the market.

Shkreli rose to fame after a drug company he founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, spent $ 55 million on the sale of Daraprim and raised the price by approximately 4,000% to $ 750 per pill.