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‘Pharma bro’ Shkreli heads to jail

Published on 14/09/17 at 09:28am

Martin Shkreli’s habit of being unable to stay out of the headlines continues, although this time with the repercussion that he will now go to jail. He generated controversy this time by posting a message on Facebook offering a $5,000 reward for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair.

Shkreli and his attorneys tried to portray the post as only a joke that was never intended to cause anyone harm, Judge Matsumoto failed to see the funny side and ruled to send Shkreli to prison until his on-going trial is resolved.

The notorious ‘pharma bro’ gained notoriety by hiking the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill whilst CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Increasing the price of a medicine, used by patients living with AIDS, created a firestorm of negative publicity that managed to sweep through the entire pharmaceutical industry.

Shkreli is not awaiting trial on his behaviour through this incident but under the accusation that he committed securities fraud. This relates to his behaviour as CEO of biotech Retrophin Pharma, where it was suggested that he stole from the company to pay back investors from another deal. He has been initially found guilty of three counts of securities fraud but is appealing the ruling.

After the judge ruled him a public danger, he will now have to wait for the decision on the case from jail. "This is a solicitation of assault in exchange for money," the judge said. "That is not protected by the First Amendment."

The judge noted the apology that Shkreli had given for his post, which has since been deleted, but suggested that he owed one to Clinton, the Secret Services and the government.

The full post from Shrekli read: “The Clinton Foundation is willing to KILL to protect its secrets. So on HRC’s book tour, try to grab a hair from her. I must confirm the sequences I have. Will pay $5,000 per hair obtained from Hillary Clinton.”

The message was ruled to be likely to be taken seriously enough by his followers that it could pose a genuine threat to Clinton. Lawyers for Shkreli unsuccessfully attempted to compare the post to some of President Trump’s public tweets.

Ben Hargreaves

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