A coalition of seven state attorneys general and the FTC have announced a agreement it will force Vyera Pharmaceuticals – formerly known as Turing Pharmaceuticals – to pay up to $ 40 million and ban former CEO Kevin Mulleady from almost any position at a pharmaceutical company for seven years.
Attorney General Mark Herring and colleagues continue legal action against remaining defendant Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Vyera who was the architect of a ploy to drop the price of the drug Darapim overnight to 750 $ the pill.
Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease, and, until relatively recently, was the only source of this life-saving drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
“Vyera Pharmaceuticals and Kevin Mulleady have taken the unreasonable decision to maintain their monopoly and to dramatically increase the price of life saving drug Daraprim, in order to make as much money as possible,” Herring said. “Misbehaving pharmaceutical companies and their executives must be held accountable when they put their profits ahead of human lives and I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have done on this matter.”
Daraprim was, until recently, the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that can have serious and often fatal consequences for people with weakened immune systems, including babies born to women infected with the disease and people with HIV.
Until recently, Daraprim was the only drug approved by the FDA to treat acute toxoplasmosis, and it was the gold standard for decades – recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the HIV Medicine Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America as the initial treatment of choice for acute toxoplasmosis. Until recently, there had never been a generic version of Daraprim sold in the United States, although it was not patented.
Prior to Mulleady and Shkreli’s involvement, Daraprim had been affordable and accessible for decades. Then, in August 2015, Vyera bought the drug, drastically increased the price overnight, changed its distribution, and engaged in other behaviors to delay and hamper generic competition, all in order to be able to maintain its new exorbitant price. The high price and changes in distribution have limited access to the drug, forcing many patients and doctors to make difficult and risky decisions for the treatment of this deadly disease.
The scheme perpetrated by Vyera, Shkreli and Mulleady involved restrictive distribution and supply agreements, as well as data secrecy, with the intent and effect of delaying the entry of low-cost generic competitors.
The terms of the deal include a strict injunction against the defendant company and Mulleady to avoid a repeat of a similar plan. In addition to the $ 40 million Vyera will pay for his wrongdoing, Mulleady will be subject to a seven-year ban from the pharmaceutical industry. Mulleady has also agreed to limit its holdings in any pharmaceutical company to nominal amounts for ten years.
Attorneys General for California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania join Attorney General Herring and the FTC in the deal.