A former pharmaceutical company executive wants to get out of prison so he can help find a cure for the coronavirus.
Martin Shkreli, known as “Pharma Bro”, first gained notoriety for lowering the price of a life-saving medication from $ 13.50 (£ 11) to $ 750 (£ 609) per tablet.
The 37-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018 for defrauding investors in two botched hedge funds.
This week, his lawyer Ben Brafman said that Shkreli would file court documents asking the federal authorities to release him for three months so that he can carry out laboratory work “under strict surveillance”.
“I always said that if he was focused and left in a laboratory, Martin could help cure cancer,” said Brafman in a statement.
“Maybe it can help the scientific community better understand this terrible virus. “
Shkreli, who is known for his arrogant personality, called the pharmaceutical industry’s response to the pandemic “inadequate” in a research proposal published online.
He wrote that the researchers from each pharmaceutical company “should be put to work until COVID-19 is no more.”
He said his experience “as a successful biopharmaceutical entrepreneur, having bought multiple companies, inventing several new drug candidates” would make him a valuable asset in fighting the global pandemic.
“I am one of the few executives with experience in ALL aspects of drug development,” said Shkreli.
“I do not expect to benefit in any way from coronavirus treatments. “
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Shkreli was found guilty of crimes which included lying to investors about the performance of two hedge funds he managed, withdrawing more money from them than he was entitled to, and for defrauding investors in a pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, by hiding his property from some of his stock.
He was ordered to confiscate $ 7.3 million (£ 5.9 million) by a judge.
Prosecutors had described Shkreli as a master manipulator who tricked investors and said he deserved a harsher sentence not because he was “the most hated man in America”, but because he was a criminal convicted of serious fraud.
Shkreli made the headlines in 2015 after defending his decision to increase the price of Daraprim, an inexpensive drug for HIV treatment, by 5,000%.
He bought the rights to the life-saving drug from another company in 2014 before raising the price.
Asked about the price hike by Congress a few months later, he invoked his right to the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination – only to tweet after the hearing that politicians were “fools”.
Shkreli is known for attacking social media criticism and offering a bonus to anyone who gives him one of Hillary Clinton’s hair.