📍 Las Vegas, NV, USA. on 23rd Oct 2022 at 00:00
3 mins read
Listen to this article:
There are some people you just can't run away from — they always find a way to come back.
Martin Shkreli, better known as 'Pharma Bro,' is one of those who promises to return. Shkreli was announced a co-founder of the recently launched Druglike, a Web3 drug discovery software platform.
Martin Shkreli earned the title of 'the most hated man in America' less than a decade ago. The "Pharma Bro" founded his first investment fund at the age of 21, followed by founding Retrophin Pharmaceuticals in 2012. This company was dedicated to finding treatments for rare diseases. Two years later, its shares grew more than sixfold — rocketing from $3 to $20.
Shkreli was on a brilliant path. Many admired his entrepreneurial spirit and all the progress he had made at such a young age. Yet, little did they know what was to come.
In 2015, he founded Turing Pharmaceuticals, subsequently renamed Vyera Pharmaceuticals. Through this company, he bought Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis and malaria. This drug is used to cure parasitic diseases in pregnant women and HIV patients.
This drug was a lifeline for many patients. And Shkreli showed its true colors when the opportunity arose. Shortly after buying Daraprim, he raised its price. The increase was steep: it went from $13.50 to $750 — more than 4,000%. Shkreli decided to go all the way to defend his product and maximize his profits. Not only did he raise the price of the drug, but he also prevented competitors from offering a generic version. In other words, he was the only one producing this life-saving drug.
This story was not going to end well for Shkreli.
The court sentenced Shkreli in 2018 to 7 years in prison — guilty of securities fraud. He was convicted of manipulating the share price of Retrophin, his first company.
In 2020, seven states and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit against him. These claimed that he had violated state and federal laws prohibiting anti competitive conduct.
In early 2022, a judge ruled that Shkreli violated antitrust laws. As a result, she ordered him to repay the $64.6M he earned in profits from the Darapim patent. However, Shkreli managed to get out of jail. Last May, he was released from prison and then transferred to a rehabilitation center.
He was banned from the industry. Yet, everyone knew the Pharma Bro's character. Him trying to do something as soon as he was out of jail was already a given. Which leads us to meet Druglike.
Unfortunately, it only took two months to see Pharma Bro back in business. And even more unfortunate is that he saw the opportunity to join web3.0. He is listed as a co-founder of Druglike — a decentralized drug discovery (DeSci) Web3 platform.
They want to democratize and disrupt the current computational chemistry software industry. Druglike promises access to computational resources and a marketplace. With these two elements, people can work together securely to create new molecules.
Druglike also promises to use a new consensus mechanism called Proof-of-Optimization. As stated in the whitepaper, this consensus would guarantee the integrity of shared research.
According to Shkreli, drug discovery software is complex and expensive. That's why he is presenting this new product as the solution. Shkreli says Druglike will remove the barriers to early-stage drug discovery. He also claimed that it would help pharmaceutical innovation.
Yet, people are pretty skeptical. Shocking, right? The first cause of skepticism is the most obvious: There is no confidence whatsoever in Martin Shkreli's name. The fact that Pharma Bro is related calls the project into question.
The second major reason has to do with a more technical aspect. Drug discovery is a long process involving many preclinical studies, testing, and more. It takes a lot of time, money, and resources.
Then you have to deal with the government. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't approve it, you lose all your time. And why would the FDA approve anything related to Shkreli?
All in all, the Pharma Bro's involvement with Druglike makes the project look pretty shaky. However, let's be honest: if Shkreli's name wasn't involved, we might be applauding the project. In theory, it sounds like a project that advocates pharmaceutical collaboration. But that's only in theory; in practice, many doubts remain.
Shkreli did a lot of damage to a lot of people. He is forbidden to participate in this industry for the reason we all know. Would he do anything to democratize this industry? Does Shkreli have something up his sleeve, or is he just trying to redeem himself? Time will tell.