Martin Shkreli, the “Pharma Bro” who is serving out a seven-year prison sentence for securities fraud, says he wants a three-month “furlough” from incarceration to help assist with COVID-19 research.
“The industry response to COVID-19 is inadequate. All biopharmaceutical companies should be responding with all resources to combat this health emergency,” Shkreli wrote in a document released online with four other associates. “As a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur, having purchased multiple companies, invented multiple new drug candidates, filed numerous INDs and clinical trial applications, I am one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development.”
Shkreli gained notoriety in 2015 after he inflated the price of a life-saving drug used to treat parasitic infections and HIV/AIDS from $13.50 to $750 per tablet overnight, as well as for frequently trolling and harassing people on Twitter and buying the only copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million. In 2018, a jury found Shkreli guilty of three counts of fraud related to two hedge funds he controlled.
In the document released online this week, which purported to describe a “silico screening campaign aimed at generating non-nucleoside lead molecules with inhibitory activity against the coronavirus RdRp protein,” Shkreli said he hadn’t been paid for any of his work related to coronavirus research and did not “expect to profit in any way, shapes or form from coronavirus-related treatments.”
“Medicinal chemists, structural biologists, enzymologists and assay development and research biology departments at EVERY pharmaceutical company should be put to work until COVID-19 is no more,” he also wrote. “Being released to the post-COVID world is no solace to even the incarcerated.”