He earned the nickname “most evil man in the world” after buying in 2015 the rights to sell a drug – Daraprim – used to treat cancer and AIDS and raise the price from 13 to 750 dollars. Then came prison for fraud while driving two hedge funds, Msmb Capital and Msmb Healthcare, and for stealing large amounts of money from a company, Retrophin.

A few lines are not enough to summarise who  Martin Shkreli is because, at only 37, he managed to become one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, but also one of the most unscrupulous. And even now that he is in prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, serving a seven-year sentence, he continues to be talked about. The tycoon asked to be allowed to leave the penitentiary in which he is detained, for a period of three months, in order to carry out studies and research on a drug for the treatment of coronavirus.

The request came through the online publication of a scientific paper in which Shkreli motivates his intentions, writing: “As a successful biopharmaceutical entrepreneur, I purchased multiple companies, invented new drugs and studied all aspects of clinical trials, they are therefore one of the few executives with experience in all aspects of drug development.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Shkreli’s paper

The study published online was not only conducted by the American entrepreneur, but also bears the signature of four other people: Kevin Mulleady, Maureen Lohry, James Rondina and Jason Sommer. All common scientists and collaborators of Prospero Pharmaceuticals , a company that Shkreli founded in 2015 with Mulleady.

The research work described in the article was conducted within Prospero and examines a software that has studied more than 100 thousand molecular compounds effective against the Sars-Cov2 virus. Among these, eight have been selected which, with appropriate research and experiments, according to what was written by Shkreli and associates, could be useful to fight and contain the pandemic.

The paper was commented on by the American scientific community, as reported by the Stat News website. The first to have his say was Derek Lowe, a well-known pharmaceutical chemist and very active on an online blog, who spoke of the work as “not very innovative “ and certainly not worthy of a three-month prize permit. In this regard, Lowe’s comment leaves little room for interpretation: “We are not organising another Manhattan project and we are not even looking for another Robert Oppenheimer” .

But since it is Shkreli, the doubts that lead to think that the desire to leave prison is not linked only to purely scientific issues are legitimate. Inside the article, the entrepreneur is keen to specify that “he does not expect to make any profit from the development of this drug” and that, indeed, “any pharmaceutical company operating in this field should only try to recover costs production, making himself available to do his job as a form of public service “ .