‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli launches new crypto-drug discovery venture
“Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive best known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 4,000% and then going to jail, is embarking on a new venture.
He plans to launch a software platform called Dope which provides resources to individuals or organizations “looking to start or contribute to early-stage drug discovery projects.” The company’s goal is to “democratize the access, cost and rewards of early-stage drug discovery,” according to its Twitter profile.
Drug discovery and development takes a lot of time and money and requires Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. On average, the process from identifying a drug to getting it approved by the FDA could take 10 years and cost $1.3 billion, Druglike said.
Druglike, publicly announced on Monday, plans to offer a decentralized cloud-based service that provides “in silico” computer programs to identify and design drugs – the same software that big pharmaceutical companies use. It will also incorporate a blockchain verification system through which contributors can earn rewards paid in a new cryptocurrency called Martin Shkreli Inu (MSI).
Through the platform, anyone with web access can experience the “next breakthrough [in] medicine, Shkreli said in a statement. “A broad pool of innovators and contributors, rather than just pharma giants, [could] profit from drug discovery,” he added.
“It’s kind of like my revenge on the pharmaceutical industry to a certain extent. It would be fascinating if, say, the next big drug came out because… 20,000 volunteer computers made it instead of [say]Merck,” he told the Daily mail.
In January, a federal judge slapped Shkreli with a lifetime ban of the pharmaceutical industry. It is unclear whether his new project violates this prohibition, although Druglike states that it is “not a pharmaceutical company” nor engaged in drug development. Yet two attorneys general are already investigating Druglike, according to The daily beast. A spokesman for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told the publication that his office was “concerned about this development and will be looking into it more closely.” The New York Attorney General’s office is also investigating Shkreli’s new venture.
In 2015, when Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he raised the price of Daraprim, a drug that treats a specific parasitic infection that is particularly threatening to people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, to $750. against $13.50 per tablet. This decision drew widespread condemnation. He denied that the price increase was excessive and Told SCS at the time that he was simply “a capitalist.” I’m trying to create… a profitable pharmaceutical company.
But in 2018, a federal court sentenced Shkreli to seven years in prison after convicting him three counts of securities fraud. Shkreli was charged with defraud investors on millions of dollars they gave to his two hedge funds, then scammed money and shares of another biotech company he founded to pay off those investors. He was released from prison in May.
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