Voice Behind the Wall
Does a prison sentence for securities fraud silence somebody who still thinks he has a lot to say? Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive who was sentenced to serve seven years for securities fraud, may be blogging biopharma tips from prison, according to Amirah Al Idrus of Fierce Biotech.
In the combative, "insolent" tone that he used outside of the prison walls, somebody who sounds like Shkreli is writing a blog using TRULINCS, a limited e-mail system employed by corrections systems. He sends the posts to a friend, who then publishes them. In the first of these posts, disseminated July 1, Shkreli said, "I’ll be discussing biopharmaceuticals and other topics. I am not recommending any stocks or making investment advice. This is merely me 'thinking out loud'."
In his way of thinking, Shkreli opined that he is "skeptical" of Sage Therapeutics, whose postpartum depression (PPD) drug brexanolone is supposed to get an FDA decision by December 19. According to the blog, "PPD is unlikely to be a major market and I’m suspicious of the preliminary findings with the GABAergic agent."
He is equally skeptical of Nektar Therapeutics, which uses its PEGylation platform to reduce the toxicity of the inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-2 (IL-2). Recently, Nektar presented what Shkreli described as a "confusing" set of phase 1/2 data for its immuno-oncology asset NKTR-214, which is made of IL-2 protein bound by multiple releasable polyethylene glycol (PEG) chains, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting. Shkreli said, "No, the cure for cancer is not pegylated Proleukin. [...] You can’t call it a bubble without some inflation. Back to reality… this drug doesn’t work," the blog said.
Shkreli, or the blogger who sounds just like him, also took aim at BeiGene, the China-based biopharma developing molecularly targeted and immuno-oncology drugs for the treatment of cancer. He said, "I believe this emporer [sic] may have no clothes. Or, at least at this price, you’re paying Armani for Old Navy."
Because Shkreli raised the price of the HIV-related med Daraprim by 5000 percent, the judge who was handling his trial had difficulty finding jurors who could be impartial to somebody they perceived as representing corporate greed at its worst. In August of 2017 he was convicted of three of eight charges of securities fraud, for which he could have served as many as 20 years in prison. In March of 2018, Shkreli got a seven-year sentence and an order to pay a $75,000 fine.
Shkreli had been CEO of KaloBios, which went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2015 and then recapitalized 6 months later. The bankruptcy happened just after the company ousted Shkreli, who had attempted to develop a bailout plan with a group of investors who bought up more than 70 percent of the company’s shares. The plan was scrapped when Shkreli was arrested on securities fraud charges.