Martin Shkreli, the so-called “Pharma Bro” who’s doing time for securities fraud, will not be released from prison so he can work on a coronavirus vaccine, The Associated Press reports. The judge called his belief that he could create a treatment “delusional.”
Shkreli, 37, is currently locked up inside a minimum security Pennsylvania prison, where he’s serving seven years for securities fraud. The felon has a background in pharmaceuticals, albeit indirectly: as the founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he obtained the license to the life-saving antiparasitic drug Daraprim, then raised the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. That earned him the nicknames “the most hated man in America” and “Pharma Bro.”
Last month, Shkreli’s legal team tried to convince a judge that their client should be released to home confinement so that he can set about to work, using his pharmaceutical background to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
Specifically, Shkreli himself has posted a research proposal online in which he called the scientific community’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “inadequate,” and said that every researcher at every drug company should focus solely on a treatment for the disease it causes.
He, too, should be involved in that research, “as a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur, having purchased multiple companies, invented multiple new drug candidates,” he wrote.
In his petition to the court, he asked to be allowed to move into his fiancée’s New York City apartment for three months, where he could work “under strict supervision.”
Additionally, he claimed that he should be released because he’s at risk of contracting coronavirus inside, as well as developing complications due to his health history.
U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto wasn’t convinced of either claim.
As to Shkreli‘s claim that he is in a position to help with the development of a coronavirus treatment, Matsumoto said that that belief stemmed from the same sort of “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior” that got him put into prison in the first place. Matsumoto also noted that a coronavirus treatment has “so far eluded the best medical and scientific minds in the world working around the clock.”
Matsumoto wasn’t swayed by Shkreli’s claim that he’s at risk of developing complications from coronavirus. The prison where Shkreli is housed has no cases, among either inmates or staff. Further, Matsumoto noted that Shkreli’s one childhood bout with asthma was not enough to qualify him as having a serious-enough underlying medical condition.