Martin Shkreli mindful of his words in wake of recent arrest, pending trial
Pharma “bad-boy” Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive who “inspired wrath when he raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent,” according to NPR, appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on February 4, 2016 for a hearing on prescription drug prices.
“His testimony was far from fruitful,” said the public radio broadcaster.
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post posted video of the former CEO smirking, appearing incredulous, and donning sarcastic expressions directed at committee members including Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III (R-SC).
It’s telling that bipartisanship was easily reached by notoriously divided Capitol Hill on the issue of Martin Shkreli’s greed and childishness, and he was sent packing before the hearing ended. What a relief that must have been for committee members and observers!
Shkreli was also arrested in December 2015 for fraud he is alleged to have committed as manager of a hedge fund from 2009 to 2014. He resigned as Turing’s chief executive the day after his arrest, as previously reported in the Deadly Prescription blog.
He appeared before the House committee to discuss drug pricing. The hearing also featured testimony from Dr. Janet Woodcock and Keith Flanagan of the FDA, Howard Schiller of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (which also has been criticized over its price hikes), Nancy Retzlaff of Turing and Mark Merritt of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.
“In Turing’s defense, Retzlaff said that two-thirds of patients receive Daraprim at a steep discount through government programs, and that the company funds an assistance program for uninsured, low-income patients,” NPR reported.
Shkreli was advised by his counsel to plead the Fifth. And he “followed that advice to the letter,” said the radio network.
NPR.org also published the first exchange:
“Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the committee: ‘What do you say to that single pregnant woman who might have AIDS, no income, she needs Daraprim in order to survive. What do you say to her when she has to make that choice? What do you say to her?’
Shkreli: ‘On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.’
Chaffetz: ‘Do you think you’ve done anything wrong?’
Shkreli: ‘On the advice of counsel,’ (pausing for a moment) ‘I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.’
“Shkreli confirmed the pronunciation of his name, but otherwise refused to answer all questions directed his way.”
Shkreli isn’t so quiet, normally. He has been outspoken and unapologetic in his conversations with reporters — and his live video streams from his apartment.
“A visibly frustrated Rep. Gowdy pointed out that Shkreli could answer a wide range of questions without incriminating himself. ‘I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours,’ the former pharmaceutical executive said with a tight smile. ‘Well, Mr. Chairman, I am vexed,’ Gowdy said, pointing to Shkreli’s readiness to talk to the press, but not to Congress,” the report said.
NPR added that “Rep. Cummings, for his part, didn’t even attempt to question Shkreli, and instead pleaded with him — arguing that Shkreli could use his position, and his influence over his former company, as a force for good. Cummings said Shkreli could use his influence to advocate for patients’ rights and could ‘make a difference in so many people’s lives.’”