Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, a lightning rod for outrage over soaring US prescription drug prices and infamous for hiking the price of a life-saving Aids-related pill by 5,000 per cent, pleaded not guilty yesterday to an additional criminal charge that federal prosecutors filed against him last week.
Shkreli (33) was indicted in December on seven criminal counts, including securities fraud. Prosecutors last Friday added an eighth charge, saying Shkreli tried to conceal from investors his control over shares in the firm Retrophin. Evan Greebel, former outside counsel to Retrophin, also pleaded not guilty to the charge at a court hearing in Brooklyn.
Shkreli last year sparked outrage among patients, medical societies and US politicians after another company he ran, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of Daraprim by more than 5,000 per cent to $750 a pill. He said he upped the price to invest in research, but critics said he was forcing the medicine out of reach of the most needy.
The move led presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to vow to tackle the problem of price gouging by pharma companies. Bernie Sanders, also running for the Democrat nomination, refused to accept a campaign donation from him.
In December, US authorities arrested him on fraud charges unrelated to the pricing of Daraprim, saying he ran his investment funds and companies almost like a Ponzi scheme.
US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto declined during yesterday's hearing to set a trial date for Shkreli and Greebel. – (Reuters)