Mar 9, 2019 - Health

Martin Shkreli runs his company from prison

In this image, Martin Shkreli wears a black polo shirt and points at the camera.

Martin Shrkeli. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Martin Shrkeli is still trying to build a pharma empire, even though he's locked away in prison for the next 5-plus years, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: After his past moves in the industry, Shrkeli inspired at least 1 pharmaceutical CEO to jack up drug prices. The chief executive of Nostrum Laboratories told the Financial Times it was "a moral requirement" to sell an antibiotic at the highest price.

Details, per the WSJ:

  • With the help of a contraband cell phone and fellow inmates who protect him physically, Shrkeli is still the "shadow power" at Phoenixus AG — his privately held drug company, based in Switzerland but operating out of Manhattan.
  • "His back-of-the-commissary-envelope calculation indicates that Phoenixus could be worth $3.7 billion by the time he is due to be freed in 2023, according to a person familiar with his thinking," the Journal reports.
  • "His plan involves acquiring more rare drugs in various stages of development and plowing money into an ambitious research-and-development agenda."

Despite the public uproar that surrounded Shrkeli's price hikes, he was able to keep control of his company and install a friendly board before his conviction, enabling him to keep calling the shots from behind bars.

  • Phoenixus had roughly $38 million in cash at the end of last September.

When he's not firing his CEO or looking for new deals, Shrkeli apparently "reads about research into fatty acids and the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the inmate computer lab or on his phone."

  • Fellow inmates "persuaded him to turn down a gig playing guitar in a prison band because the other members were locked up for child molestation."
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