Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli Can’t Leave Prison to Cure Coronavirus, Judge Rules

Martin ShkreliErik Pendzich/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Martin Shkreli will not be let out of prison to research a coronavirus treatment.

US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto issued a nine-page ruling Saturday denying Shkreli’s request, noting that probation officials viewed the notion that Shkreli might help solve the pandemic as the kind “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior” that landed him behind bars in the first place, according to the Associated Press.

Shkreli came to infamy in 2015 after buying the rights to a drug used to treat complications from AIDS and malaria and dramatically increasing the price—by more than 5,000 percent. That earned him the nickname “Pharma Bro” and, in the words of multiple media outlets, turned him into the “most hated man in America.” In 2017, he was convicted of three counts of securities fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison.

But maybe you can’t knock the man for trying. Recently, other high-profile convicts, including former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, won early release from prison because of the threat the virus poses in prisons—though Cohen’s release has been delayed for unspecified reasons. Last month, former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was released from a New York jail, where he was awaiting sentencing in an extortion case. 

Shkreli has been locked up in a minimum security federal prison in Pennsylvania where there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus. Still, detention facilities across the globe have become hotbeds for infection, as my colleagues Nathalie Baptiste and Samantha Micheals have reported.

States like California and New York have released low-level offenders who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19, which has drawn rebukes from some tough-on-crime critics. But Shkreli’s case proves that getting out of prison—even during a pandemic—isn’t all that easy.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.