'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli in solitary confinement for running company from behind bars: The story of America's most hated man

It is estimated Shkreli will probably emerge from jail richer than he entered since Phoenixus, which he controls, could be worth $3.7 billion by the time he's freed in 2023


                            'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli in solitary confinement for running company from behind bars: The story of America's most hated man

Martin Shkreli has been thrown into solitary confinement after it was suspected that he was still running his pharmaceutical company from a contraband cellphone while in prison, according to numerous reports.

A source close to Shkreli is said to have confirmed to Forbes that the 36-year-old was taken to Fort Dix's special housing unit about a week-and-a-half after a Wall Street Journal report which claimed he had fired Phoenix AG's interim CEO from behind bars.

Not that anyone will feel bad for a man who has come to be known by monikers such as 'the most hated man in America' and 'Pharma bro'.

It doesn't help that it's estimated Shkreli will probably emerge from jail richer than he entered since, according to his own calculations, Phoenixus, which he controls through a "roughly 40% personal stake in the company and shares owned by loyalist investors," could be worth $3.7 billion by the time he is due to be freed in 2023.

Shkreli is reportedly in solitary confinement for running his company while behind bars (Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Shkreli is reportedly in solitary confinement for running his company while behind bars (Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

 

As far as his career goes, he can't be considered anything but a success either: he was the co-founder of hedge funds Elea Capital, MSMB Capital Management, and MSMB Healthcare; co-founder and former CEO of biotechnology firm Retrophin; founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals; and former CEO of start-up software company Gödel Systems.

So, how has he become such a notorious figure whose very name induces a foaming-at-the-mouth rage? Most would point to his founding of Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015, which is where he acquired a drug called Daraprim that was commonly used to treat patients with AIDS-related and AIDS-unrelated toxoplasmosis and increased its price overnight from US$13.50 to US$750 per pill. 

It was a move that was widely criticized by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association, as well as several other prominent organizations, and also presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump.

But those who had followed his career until then would have known that his modus operandi was to takeover pharma companies, obtain licenses on out-of-patent medicines and then re-evaluate the pricing of each in pursuit of windfall profits. The so-called stunt he pulled at Turing was one he had successfully tested in 2014 with Retrophin when he acquired the rights to market Thiola, a drug used to treat the rare disease cystinuria and Chenodal, and marked the price up from $1.50 to $30 per pill. 

However, none of these were criminal offenses. Shkreli, in fact, got into trouble because he's a classic example of someone who absolutely adores the spotlight.

Case in point was when he was subpoenaed to testify before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives to answer questions about the Daraprim price increase. He refused to answer any questions, except to confirm his name, smirking on many occasions as he pleaded the fifth.

Shkreli is serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison (Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Shkreli is serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison (Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

The testimony was followed by his much-publicized 2017 trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on a federal indictment charging him with securities fraud. Shkreli was very visible on social media for the entire duration, frequently criticizing prosecutors and calling them "junior varsity" on his Facebook streaming video feed and in the hallways of the courthouse. It got to a point where prosecutors requested that judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto issue a gag order to prevent what they called a "campaign of disruption." 

The prosecutors were not the only ones he was targeting on social media either. He was first suspended, and then permanently banned from Twitter that year after he harassed a reporter by the name of Lauren Duca by superimposing pictures of himself on photos of her and her boyfriend after she rejected his proposal for a date. That didn't stop him from boasting that he would have sex with Duca if he got acquitted.

She must have breathed a sigh of relief when, in August 2017, a jury found Shkreli guilty on two counts of securities frauds and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, but not guilty on five other counts. It was a verdict that delighted him and prompted him to describe his prosecution as "a witch hunt of epic proportions."

He couldn't avoid controversy while he was free on bail either. His bail was revoked because of a Facebook post he made where he offered $5,000 to anyone who could provide him with a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair. A judge perceived the post as a solicitation to assault, which is not protected under the first amendment, and sent him to the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, while awaiting sentencing.

In March 2018, he was ordered to forfeit nearly $7.4 million in assets and sentenced to seven years in federal prison. As previously mentioned, he is currently incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, a low-security prison, and is seemingly running his company unabated.