Biotech entrepreneur Martin Shkreli has requested a three-month long furlough from prison to help develop potential treatments for COVID-19.
Shkreli is currently serving seven years in a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania for securities fraud, but has a unique history of experience developing new drugs.
“As a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur, having purchased multiple companies, invented multiple new drug candidates, filed numerous INDs and clinical trial applications, I am one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development from molecule creation and hypothesis generation,” Shkreli wrote in a scientific paper co-authored by two of Shkreli’s business partners and two scientists that was published online in response to the coronavirus.
The paper claims that they have used software to screen more than 100,000 compounds against a model of the coronavirus, and got the list down to eight available drugs that could be possible matches for treating the virus. The drugs they found to be “potentially novel 2019-nCoV RdRp inhibitors” are clofazimine, paritaprevir, ledipasvir, bafetinib, apilimod, fimepinostat, erosnin, and revizinone.
Other companies have been doing similar work, but Shkreli maintains that they aren’t going far enough.
“I am asking for a brief furlough (3 months) to assist in research work on COVID-19. Being released to the post-COVID world is no solace to even the incarcerated. As a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur, having purchased multiple companies, invented multiple new drug candidates, filed numerous INDs and clinical trial applications, I am one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development from molecule creation and hypothesis generation, to preclinical assessments and clinical trial design/target engagement demonstration, and manufacturing/synthesis and global logistics and deployment of medicines,” Shkreli wrote.
Shkreli and his partners maintain that they do not intend to profit from any help they can offer.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I have not been paid for any work on this matter or any other matter while incarcerated. I do not expect to profit in any way, shape or form from coronavirus-related treatments,” he added. “I believe any company developing a coronavirus drug should seek to recoup its cost at most and be willing to perform the work as a civil service at the least. If the government is willing to reward industry for their work on this catastrophic situation, it will be at each company’s discretion to accept, negotiate or deny such funding, including bulk purchases, cost reimbursement, tax credits and other benefits.”