Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Business

Shkreli invokes the Fifth Amendment in House appearance

In a testy exchange with lawmakers, Martin Shkreli declined to testify before a House committee Thursday about his actions in increasing the price of a decades-old drug fiftyfold overnight.

Shkreli, who left Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug company he started, after being indicted on federal securities fraud charges in December, repeatedly exercised his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, angering various members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"I don't think I've ever seen the committee treated with such contempt," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said after Shkreli was excused and left the room.

Shkreli did answer "yes'' when Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., asked him if he had pronounced his name properly.

The theatrics surrounding Shkreli's appearance, which included his smirking at some remarks by committee members and calling them "imbeciles" on Twitter after he left the hearing, overshadowed the discussion about huge overnight increases in the prices of old drugs by Turing and another company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Under Shkreli, Turing acquired the rights to Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug for a parasitic infection, and raised the price fiftyfold to $750 a pill.

Valeant has increased the price of numerous old drugs, but the House committee has focused on two heart drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress.

Howard B. Schiller, interim CEO of Valeant, rationalized the substantial increases in the prices of the two heart drugs by arguing that the company would merely be taking money from hospitals, not hurting patients. At the hearing, Schiller said the company now recognized that it had been too aggressive on certain pricing decisions and acknowledged public concern.

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