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Martin Shkreli Sued for “Unlawful Scheme” to Monopolize Life Saving Drug

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  • “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was accused of using anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly on the lifesaving drug Daraprim. 
  • A lawsuit, filed by the Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general, alleges that after dramatically spiking the price of Daraprim in 2015, Shkreli used illegal strategies to prevent generic versions of the drug from being made. 
  • The suit demands that he and his associate compensate victims of the alleged scheme who overpaid for the drug and be banned from further work in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Shkreli, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence for unrelated fraud convictions, has denied the claims.

Lawsuit Filed

Martin Shkreli, an ex-pharmaceutical executive who is currently serving time in prison, was accused on Monday of using illegal tactics to maintain a monopoly on a lifesaving drug. 

The Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit against Shkreli and his associate, Kevin Mulleady, with whom he owns Vyera Pharmaceuticals. The complaint, which was filed in federal court, challenges a “comprehensive scheme” conducted by the company and its heads to prevent generic versions of an anti-parasite drug from being made.

“We won’t allow ‘pharma bros’ to manipulate the market and line their pockets at the expense of vulnerable patients and the health care system,” James said in a statement.

Allegations Unpacked

Daraprim is a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a potentially fatal parasite infection. Shkreli made headlines in 2015 for spiking the price of Daraprim from less than $20 to $750 a pill, a move that brought him much backlash from around the nation. He’s often referred to by the media as “Pharma Bro” and “the most hated man in America.”

The FTC and James allege that Shkreli and associates dramatically bumped the price of Daraprim after buying the rights to it, knowing this move would attract generic competition. After hiking the cost, the pharmaceutical heads made efforts to block the generic reproduction of the drug by restricting access to samples and a critical ingredient, the suit claims.

It also accuses the defendants of signing agreements with Vyera’s distributors to prevent them from selling sales data about the drug to third-party data companies, a move that blocks critical information from competing companies to determine whether a generic version is worth pursuing. 

“Their unlawful scheme to maintain a monopoly on Daraprim continues to this day,” the lawsuit alleges. 

The suit demands an unspecified amount of funds from Shkreli and Mulleady to compensate those who overpaid for Daraprim due to their scheme. It also seeks that the men receive a lifetime ban from any further work in the pharmaceutical industry.

Shkreli has denied all claims. 

“Mr. Shkreli looks forward to defeating this baseless and unprecedented attempt by the FTC to sue an individual for monopolizing a market,” Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement.

In 2018, Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison for unrelated fraud convictions tied to a different pharmaceutical company he founded in 2011 as well as two hedge funds that he ran.  Despite being behind bars, there were reports last spring that Shkreli still found ways to stay involved with Phoenixus AG, the parent company of Vyera Pharmaceuticals.  

See what others are saying: (Time) (The New York Times) (Wall Street Journal)

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Video of Man Punching Woman’s Reclined Airplane Seat Sparks Debate

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  • When a woman on an American Airlines flight reclined her seat, the man behind her responded by repeatedly punching the back of it. 
  • After a flight attendant was called to help, she allegedly sided with the man and offered him a free cocktail. 
  • The woman, Wendi Williams, took to social media to share her side of the story and express her frustration. The video she posted of the incident has since gone viral. 
  • Some have admonished Williams for reclining her seat in such tight quarters, while others have publicly condemned the man for his behavior.

Tensions Rise in the Sky

An airplane passenger went public with her story of a man punching the back of her seat when she reclined it during a flight, and the Internet has had a lot to say on the matter. 

Wendi Williams took an American Airlines plane from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 31 — a flight that lasts around two hours. The man behind her couldn’t recline his own seat, as he was sitting in the last row of the plane. Williams said he asked her to put her seat up because he was eating, which she says she did. Then when he was finished she reclined it again. That’s when the trouble started — the man responded by hitting the back of William’s seat.

Williams began recording the punches and even called a flight attendant for help, but the employee allegedly brushed her off. Instead of reprimanding the man in the last row, Williams claimed the flight attendant offered him a cocktail and told Williams to delete the footage. 

“She rolled her eyes at me and said, ‘What?’” Williams tweeted. “She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum!”

Williams has been posting about the incident to her Twitter page over the last week, calling the man’s actions an “assault.” She said that prior to the start of her video, in behavior not caught on camera, the man’s aggression was worse.

American Airlines responded to Williams directly on Twitter, asking her to direct message them with her contact information. Williams replied that she had reached out to them multiple times. Several hours later, she reported on Twitter that she had talked to an American Air representative but felt as if an adequate apology wasn’t given for their flight attendant’s actions. Williams threatened to “press charges” in the wake of her dissatisfaction.

In a statement, American Airlines said it was looking into what happened.

“The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority,” the airline said.  

Williams also said that the man’s punches have caused her physical pain, and revealed that she has pre-existing back issues. She wrote that since the plane ordeal, she has “lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got x-rays, and have [had] horrible headaches for a week.”

Online Reactions

The debacle caught widespread attention and the video of part of the incident went viral, bringing in many mixed reactions.

After it was revealed that Williams was sitting in coach, some thought she shouldn’t have reclined her seat with such little room.

“Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far…” one person wrote. “Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.”

While some did admonish the man for punching Williams, they still thought she was in wrong as well for reclining her seat.

“I’m calling a double technical,” one Twitter user wrote. “Don’t recline. Especially into the poor sap in the last row of the plane which doesn’t recline AND is adjacent to the lav. But, also… don’t punch someone’s seat, dude.”

Others defended the woman, arguing that she has a right to recline her seat, especially because it was designed with that feature. There was also widespread criticism of the man for taking the approach that he did.

And some Twitter users even pointed to the gender dynamic, arguing the situation was extra problematic because it was a man punching the seat of a woman and a power imbalance.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (Fox News) (KRQE Media)

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Chicago High Schoolers Stage Sit-In After Teacher Allegedly Tells Student ‘Go Back to Your Country’

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  • When a Latina student at Senn High School in Chicago refused to stand during the national anthem, her teacher allegedly said, “go back to your country.”
  • Students complained to the principal but felt there wasn’t enough being done, so they staged a sit-in on Wednesday to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
  • Chicago Public Schools said they are investigating the teacher’s alleged comments and support students who are peacefully raising concerns.
  • The teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.

Claims of Racism 

Chicago high school students held a sit-in on Wednesday after a teacher allegedly told a Latina student “go back to your country” when she refused to stand for the national anthem last month. 

When Senn High School held a Hispanic heritage assembly on Jan. 30, 17-year-old Yésica Salazar and several other senior students remained seated for the national anthem. It was an act of silent protest against police brutality, U.S. immigration policies, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

According to the students, two teachers approached them and asked one if she was eligible for free or reduced lunch. When she responded that she was, the teacher told her that she should stand because people had died for this country. The student left the auditorium.

The teacher then turned to Salazar, asking her if her legs were broken. She told him no and started to explain her reasons for sitting.

“Before I could finish my sentence, he responds back with the famous line: ‘Go back to your country.'” Salazar told NBC News

Salazar, who is a U.S. citizen, was hurt by the remark.

“I felt very offended because my parents have fought hard to be a part of this country,” Salazar told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Sit-In Protest

The group of seniors complained about the incident to their principal, Mary Beck, but felt like the school’s response had been too slow. They held Wednesday’s sit-in, along with other students, to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher. 

In several videos that have circulated on social media, students can be heard chanting, “we want justice, we want peace.”

Another video shows Beck addressing the students.

“I notified CPS. I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing, it is all time-stamped,” she said. “I did my job. I continue to follow through based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place.

She is then interrupted as students start yelling, “So why is he still here?” referring to the teacher. Beck also receives some boos from the crowd.

This was not the only drama that unfolded during the sit-in. Chicago police reported that a 15-year-old student was arrested during the demonstration. She and another student began fighting, police said, and when a 55-year-old staff member tried to break it up, she pushed him to the ground. 

Chicago Public Schools said they have launched an investigation into the teacher’s alleged national anthem comments, and spokesperson James Gherardi said they support students who are peacefully voiced their concern. 

“CPS is committed to fostering learning environments that embrace and support all students, and the alleged actions of the teacher in question run counter to our beliefs and priorities as a school district,” Gherardi said.

According to Block Club Chicago, the teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.

See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Time) (Chicago Sun-Times

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Should Freedom of Religion Protect Humanitarians Giving Food & Water to Migrants At The Border?

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The U.S. federal government said that Humanitarians from the religious immigration reform group No More Deaths broke the law when they trespassed on a wildlife reserve to leave water for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Eventually, nearly all charges were reversed due to the religious freedom restoration act. The law says that even in circumstances where a law doesn’t mention religion, it can still violate peoples’ religious liberties, which was the case for No More Deaths. Check out this week’s video to learn more about who ruled in favor of the humanitarians and why their religious liberties were being violated according to one judge’s ruling.  

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