Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
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Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING HELPS SECURE $40 MILLION FROM VYERA PHARMACEUTICALS, BANS CORPORATE EXECUTIVE FROM PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY FOR SEVEN YEARS
~ Vyera and former CEO Kevin Mulleady stifled competition after raising price on lifesaving drug more than 4,000 percent; Defendants to pay up to $40 million as disgorgement of ill-gotten gains ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring, as part of a coalition of seven attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced an agreement that will end the illegal and monopolistic behavior of Vyera Pharmaceuticals – previously known as Turing Pharmaceuticals – and one of its former CEOs Kevin Mulleady. The agreement also forces the company to pay up to $40 million and bans Mulleady from almost any role at a pharmaceutical company for seven years. Attorney General Herring and his colleagues continue to pursue their lawsuit against remaining defendant Martin Shkreli, the former Vyera CEO who was the architect of the illegal scheme.
In April 2020, Attorney General Herring sued Vyera, Shkreli, and Mulleady for antitrust violations that stifled competition and permitted the defendants to protect and maintain their monopoly profits from their more than 4,000 percent overnight increase – to $750 per pill – of the drug Daraprim (pyrimethamine). Daraprim is used to treat the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis and, until relatively recently, was the only approved source of this life-saving medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"Vyera Pharmaceuticals and Kevin Mulleady made the unconscionable decision to hold onto their monopoly and astronomically raise the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, in order to make as much money as possible,” said Attorney General Herring. "Bad acting drug companies and their executives must be held accountable when they put profits over human lives and I'm proud of the work my colleagues and I did on this case.”
Daraprim was, until recently, the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease which may pose serious and often life-threating consequences for those with compromised immune systems, including babies born to women infected with the disease and individuals with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Until recently, Daraprim had been the only FDA-approved drug 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 therapy of choice for acute toxoplasmosis. Until recently, there had never been a generic version of Daraprim sold in the United States, despite its being unpatented.
Before Mulleady and Shkreli's involvement, Daraprim had been affordable and accessible for decades. Then, in August 2015, Vyera purchased the drug, increased the price dramatically overnight, altered its distribution, and engaged in other conduct to delay and impede generic competition — all so that it could maintain its new sky-high price. The high price and distribution changes limited access to the drug, forcing many patients and physicians to make difficult and risky decisions for the treatment of this life-threatening disease.
The illegal 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 entry by lower cost generic competitors.
The terms of today's agreement include a strict injunction against both the corporate defendant and Mulleady to avoid repetition of a similar scheme. In addition to the $40 million Vyera will pay for its wrongdoing, Mulleady will be subject to a seven-year ban from the pharmaceutical industry. Mulleady has also agreed to limit his shareholdings in any pharmaceutical company to nominal amounts, for ten years.
Joining Attorney General Herring and the FTC in this agreement are the attorneys general of California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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