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UPDATE 1-Martin Shkreli fails to end FTC, NY lawsuit over Daraprim price hikes

(Adds details from decision, case citation, byline)

NEW YORK, Aug 18 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday rejected Martin Shkreli’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the imprisoned former pharmaceutical executive of trying to monopolize the lifesaving drug Daraprim, whose price he raised more than 4,000% in one day.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote denied requests by Shkreli and Vyera Pharmaceuticals, which he once ran, to dismiss all but one claim in a civil lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission, New York Attorney General Letitia James and six other states.

The defendants were accused of scheming to block generic equivalents of Daraprim from entering the market, enabling them in 2015 to boost the drug’s cost overnight to $750 from $17.50.

Daraprim treats a potentially fatal infection known as toxoplasmosis.

Lawyers for Shkreli, Vyera, its parent Phoenixus AG and the defendant Kevin Mulleady, who like Shkreli was once Vyera’s chief executive, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Nicknamed “Pharma Bro” for eccentricities including his use of social media, Shkreli is serving a seven-year prison term following his 2017 conviction for cheating investors in two hedge funds and trying to prop up a biotechnology company’s stock price.

The 37-year-old remains best known for the Daraprim price hike, when Vyera was known as Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Cote, who sits in Manhattan, said the complaint plausibly alleged that the defendants violated federal antitrust law by blocking rivals from accessing Daraprim, including when Vyera went so far as to repurchase the drug at above-retail prices.

She also pointed to allegations that Shkreli and Mulleady “designed, implemented and negotiated the network of contracts” that blocked Daraprim generics, and may have “benefitted personally” from the illegality.

The case is FTC et al v Vyera Pharmaceuticals LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 20-00706. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)

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