Disgraced pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli would like to be allowed out of federal prison for three months, pretty please. In return, the so-called "pharma bro" says he'll research treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. "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 posted online this week and cited by Stat News.
While Shkreli himself has not confirmed authorship of the paper, which was co-authored by two of his business partners and two others who are described as “citizen scientists,” a journalist who talks to him regularly to research the book she's writing on him says it is the real deal. She calls it a "research project he’s been working on, not for any profit motive." Shkreli is serving a seven-year sentence for securities fraud; the technical name for what he wants is a furlough. The paper says he and his colleagues have been screening existing compounds against a model of the virus and have narrowed it down to eight drugs that might be able to fight it. One expert tells Stat there's nothing new about Shkreli's idea and that it's not "particularly groundbreaking." (Read more Martin Shkreli stories.)