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‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli denied release from prison to research coronavirus cure

By Fabrice Pierre-Toussaint

Staff Writer for Telegraph Local | See my LinkedIn

This weekend, a judge denied convicted pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli’s request to leave prison so he could research a treatment for the novel coronavirus, after officials dismissed his rationale as the type of “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior” that got him locked up, according to The Washington Post.

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Shkreli gained notoriety as the “Pharma Bro” executive who raised the price of an AIDS drug by 5,000%. He has been serving a seven-year sentence at a low-security prison in Allenwood, Pa., since his 2017 conviction for defrauding investors. 

Prisoners nationwide have sought release during the coronavirus pandemic, as correctional centers turn into hot spots for the virus. Shkreli’s request was unusual: Last month, his attorney asked federal authorities to release him to his fiancee’s New York City apartment so he could perform lab work.

Shkreli, 37, said that the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to create a treatment for covid-19 are “inadequate” and that he is “one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development.”

In their review of Shkreli’s request for a three-month release under “strict supervision,” the probation department overseeing his case marveled at Shkreli’s claim that he could find a covid-19 cure that has “so far eluded the best medical and scientific minds in the world working around the clock.”

It’s that type of thinking that landed him in prison, the department stated, according to the U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto’s nine-page ruling issued Saturday. The disgraced executive has repeatedly disregarded authorities and seemed to revel in even a critical national spotlight. 

In her refusal of the furlough request, Matsumoto wrote that Shkreli was “healthy,” that he had no “recent history of pre-existing medical conditions that place him at higher risk” and that no cases of the virus have been reported at the prison.

“Defendant requests to be released into, among other places, an apartment in New York City, the epicenter of the covid-19 pandemic,” Matsumoto wrote.

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Ben Brafman, Shkreli’s attorney, said in a statement Sunday that they were “disappointed” by the decision but that it was “not unexpected.”

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