U.S. judge rejects Shkreli's objections to lifetime drug industry ban

NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday rejected former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli's objections to being banned for life from the drug industry and having to repay $64.6 million after jacking up the price of a lifesaving drug.

Lawyers for Shkreli, 38, had argued that the ban was overbroad and violated his right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment by barring him from publicly discussing the drug industry, even on a blog.

In imposing a permanent injunction, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said Shkreli's antitrust violations cost him that right when he intended to "influence the management or business" of a pharmaceutical company.

The Manhattan-based judge also said that requiring Shkreli to sell his shares in Phoenixus AG, the parent of Vyera Pharmaceuticals Inc, did not violate his due process rights after he used his position as its largest shareholder to orchestrate the antitrust violations.

Shkreli is serving a seven-year prison sentence in an unrelated securities fraud case.

His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In imposing the lifetime ban on Jan. 14, Cote found that Shkreli used "particularly heartless and coercive" tactics to maintain a monopoly over the drug Daraprim, which treats a parasitic infection, and keep generic rivals off the market.

Shkreli gained notoriety in 2015 and became known as "Pharma Bro" when he raised Daraprim's price overnight to $750 per tablet from $17.50.

He had at the time been chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, later renamed Vyera.

Cote's rulings followed a non-jury trial in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission and seven U.S. states.

Shkreli is eligible for release from prison on Nov. 7.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

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