A judge refused to release 'pharma bro' Martin Shkreli from prison, citing his 'delusional' claim that he could cure Covid-19 for free

A judge refused to release 'pharma bro' Martin Shkreli from prison, citing his 'delusional' claim that he could cure Covid-19 for free
Martin Shkreli, also known as "Pharma Bro."AP Images

Convicted pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli's plea to be released from prison to work on a COVID-19 cure was denied by a federal judge Saturday, according to court documents.

In April, Shkreli requested to be temporarily allowed to remain under house arrest at his fiancée's Manhattan apartment, arguing he was uniquely qualified to work on coronavirus research and that he would provide a cure for free.

US district judge Kiyo Matsumoto was not convinced.

In her ruling, Matsumoto cited a probation department's assessment of Shkreli's claim that he could develop a COVID-19 cure that has "so far eluded the best medical and scientific minds in the world working around the clock" as the same type of "delusional self-aggrandizing behavior" that landed him in prison in the first place.

Shkreli also claimed in his request that he suffered from "underlying severe allergies" and asthma that put him at higher risk of complications from the coronavirus.


However, prison records showed that Shkreli hadn't reported his allergies or taken his over-the-counter medication since September 2017, and that he "has no documented current diagnosis or treatment for asthma."

"Defendant is a healthy, 37 year old man with no recent history of preexisting medical conditions that place him at higher risk for COVID-19 and its potentially life-threatening adverse effects, and he is confined in a facility where there
are currently no cases of COVID-19," Matsumoto said in her ruling.

Shkreli gained notoriety — and his nickname, "Pharma Bro" — after jacking up the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet, an increase of more than 5,000%. He is currently serving an 84-month sentence for defrauding investors of $10 million.

He's far from the only high-profile inmate who has asked to be release from prison due to fears surrounding COVID-19. Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen and campaign chair Paul Manafort, rapper R. Kelly, and comedian Bill Cosby have all sought releases as well.

Public health and corrections officials have issued warnings over current prison conditions and the possibility of COVID-19 spreading in such facilities, and the Bureau of Prisons has released more than 2,400 inmates deemed to be at high risk from exposure to home confinement.


Kelly McLaughlin contributed reporting to this story.

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