Shkreli Asserts Fifth Amendment during Congress Hearing on Drug Pricing 

Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli, the notorious former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals asserted his right to the Fifth Amendment to prevent himself from self-incrimination during a Congressional hearing on drug pricing on Thursday.

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating the recent aggressive increases in drug prices. Turing Pharmaceuticals is among the companies requested by the lawmakers to explain its methods and reasons for the significant increases in drug prices.

Shkreli refused to answer questions

During the Congressional hearing, Shkreli repeatedly refused to answer questions regarding the impact of the drug price hike on patients.

Republican Cong. Jason Chaffetz, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked Shkreli, “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 replied, “On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.”

Republican Cong. Trey Cowdy of South Carolina was frustrated and told Shkreli that he could answer a number of questions without incriminating himself. However, the former biopharma executive told the lawmaker, “I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours.

The former biopharma executive emphasized that it is stipulated in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Democratic Cong. Elijah Cummings of Maryland scolded Shkreli because he was smirking during his opening statement. Cong. Cummings said, “It’s not funny, Mr. Shkreli.” He added, “You can go down as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives, or you can change the system.”

Republican Cong. John Mica of Florida said he would consider asking his fellow lawmakers to hold Shkreli in contempt for his behavior during the hearing. He said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the committee treated with such contempt.”

Turing Pharmaceuticals suddenly increased the price of Daraprim by more than 5,000% from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Daraprim is an antibiotic used to treat a deadly parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis, which is dangerous to AIDS patients and others with weak immune system.

Shkreli is charged with securities fraud

In December, Shkreli was arrested and indicted over allegations of securities fraud during his tenure as CEO of Rethropin while also working as hedge fund manager of MSMB capital and MSMB Healthcare. He pleaded not guilty on the charges against him and posted a $5 million bail.

Last month, the lawyer representing Shkreli disclosed that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Turing Pharmaceuticals in connection with the Daraprim drug price hike. Shkreli was still the CEO of the pharmaceutical company when it suddenly increased the price of the medicine.

Atty. Baruch Weiss told the House Committee that his client would “gladly cooperate” during the hearing if granted immunity. However, due to the ongoing FTC investigation, he would instead assert his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.