© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli exits U.S. District Court after being convicted of securities fraud, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Martin Shkreli, in jail on an unrelated matter, his former company Vyera Pharmaceuticals and others asked a judge Monday to find that they broke no laws in their handling of the drug Daraprim, which saw its price increase by more than 4,000% in one day.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit in January 2020, alleging that the company that Shkreli once ran protected its dominance of the drug by restricting distribution to ensure generic drug makers could not get the samples needed to bring out a cheaper version of the drug. The company, formerly Turing Pharmaceuticals, also prevented potential competitors from buying an ingredient, the FTC said.
Daraprim, which is used to treat toxoplasmosis, saw its price go from $17.50 per tablet to $750. Toxoplasmosis is a common parasitic infection that generally causes serious problems only if the infected person has a weakened immune system.
In a filing on Monday, the defendants said that the FTC had failed to prove that the company hurt competition, since another drug — Bactrim — was also an effective treatment for toxoplasmosis. They also argued that other companies had been able to buy the key ingredient, pyrimethamine, contradicting an FTC allegation.
The government also failed to show that the defendants made any ill-gotten gains, they said in the filing.
Trial in the case is set to begin on Dec. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern New York.
Shkreli, who is due to be released from prison in October 2022, became notorious when he sharply raised the price of the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim while chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals.
Shkreli had been convicted in August 2017 of cheating investors in two hedge funds he founded, and trying to prop up the stock price of biotechnology company Retrophin (NASDAQ:TVTX) Inc, which he once ran.