Martin Shkreli Subpoenaed By Congress, ‘Pharma Bro’ To Answer Questions About Jacking Up Drug Prices

Martin Shkreli, the reviled hedge fund manager who earned the nickname “Pharma Bro” for buying the rights to a lifesaving drug, jacking up the price 5,455 percent and being unabashedly cavalier about it, has been subpoenaed by Congress to answer questions about price-gouging in the pharmaceutical industry, Yahoo Finance is reporting.

Shkreli became the subject of international derision back in September 2015, when news broke that he, through his company Turing Pharmaceuticals, had purchased the rights to the life-saving anti-parasitic drug Daraprim. He then raised the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill, to $750 per pill, making the price out of reach for the majority of malaria and AIDS patients who depended on it.

The move was harshly criticized by medical groups and even politicians; Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and even Donald Trump all called on Shkreli to lower the price of Daraprim. In a Bloomberg interview Shkreli, however, insisted that raising the price was simply good business.

“If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don’t think that that should be a crime.”

Shkreli’s cavalier attitude about treating lifesaving medications as an investment opportunity, as well as his lavish lifestyle, made him emblematic of the disconnect between the rich and the poor, and earned him the derisive nickname “Pharma Bro.”

After a public outcry, Shkreli promised to lower the price of Daraprim by an unspecified amount – a promise that he never followed through with.

In December, Shkreli was arrested by the FBI on securities fraud and other charges. Prosecutors said he ran an elaborate “Ponzi Scheme” – an investment scheme in which money from new investors, rather than profits from investments, are used to pay off older investors. Shkreli is also accused of lying to investigators, moving money between accounts to cover losses, and using investment money for personal expenses.

According to CNN Money, Shkreli was able to make bail by putting up his $45 million E-Trade account up as collateral.

In a December Wall Street Journal interview, Shkreli remained defiant, claiming that he was targeted for indictment because of the Daraprim price hike and his “flambouyant” lifestyle.

Shkreli was fired from his job at Turing Pharmaceuticals the day after his arrest.

On Wednesday, news broke that Shkreli was subpoenaed, along with Howard Schiller, interim chief executive of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, and Turing’s chief commercial officer Nancy Retzlaff, to appear before a Congressional committee next Tuesday to answer questions about price-gouging in the pharmaceutical industry.

Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said in a statement, via ABC News, that he and other politicians have been interested in talking to Shkreli for some time.

“I have been trying for the better part of a year to get information from Martin Shkreli about his outrageous price increases, and he has obstructed our investigation at every turn. He claims publicly that he wants to explain to Congress how drug pricing works. On Tuesday, he will get his chance.”

Ever defiant, Shkreli posted a picture of his subpoena on Twitter, as well as his complete lack of interest in complying with the subpoena.

As CBS News reports, Shkreli has invoked his Fifth Amendment rights – that is, the right not to be called on as a witness against one’s self. However, as Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) insists, Shkreli cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment in this case because he’s not facing a criminal prosecution in Congress.

Martin Shkreli is scheduled to appear before Congress next Tuesday, January 26.

[AP Photo/Seth Wenig]