The disgraced former biotech executive presented a scientific paper offering to use his experience and knowledge to aid in research toward finding a cure for COVID-19.
The disgraced former biotech executive who was villainized often and repeatedly in the press for callously and needlessly jacking up the prices of necessary prescription medications by massive margins is now making a pitch to get out of prison in exchange for his help in the ongoing fight to find a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, the diseased caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"I am one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development from molecule creation and hypothesis generation," Shkreli reportedly wrote in a scientific paper that was posted online this past week. He is reportedly seeking a three-month furlough from prison to continue his research.
Christie Smythe, a journalist who has been in contact with Shkreli for a book she's writing, confirmed the paper as his to Stat News. It was written two of his business partners and two individuals described as "citizen scientists."
According to Shkreli's team, they have already screened 100,000 different drug compounds to come up with eight that might have some medicinal value. "The biopharmaceutical industry has a large braintrust of talent that is not working on this problem, as companies have deprioritized or even abandoned infectious disease research," he wrote in his paper.
But that isn't necessarily the case. Scientiests around the globe have been conducting similar tests and finding similar results. According to Derek Lowe, described by Stat as "a medicinal chemist employed by a pharmaceutical company and a well-known drug industry blogger," Shkreli's findings aren't really anything new or groundbreaking.
In a stark contract from his former stance on life-saving medications, Shkreli further claim in his paper that "any company developing a coronavirus drug should seek to recoup its cost at most and be willing to perform the work as a civil service at the least." He insists, and Smythe corroborates, that he is not seeking to profit in any way from his assistance with COVID-19 should he get the temporary release.
Shkreli first reached international infamy back in 2014 when he acquried the rights to the drugs Thiola and Chenodal, immediately raising their prices 20 fold and five fold, respectively. A year later, his Turing Pharamaceuticals acquired Daraprim, with an overnight jump in price from $13.50 per dose to $750.
Later that year, Shkreli was arrested and accused of securities fraud, with Shkreli saying he was targeted because of the Daraprim price hike, which made him a vilified public figure (demands he lower the price actually united all the presidential candidates at the time, and fell on deaf ears).
In August 2017, Shkreli was found guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. On March 9, 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.