Martin Shkreli, infamously known as “Pharma’s Bad Boy,” repeatedly pleaded the 5th Amendment and refused to answer the questions posed by the Congress about the astronomical prices increase of Daraprim.
Interim chief executive of pharmaceutical company Valeant and former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, who took profit mongering from life-saving drugs to new lows, faced a Congress review committee about his blatant business practices. However, during the hour-long session, Shkreli chose to refrain from answering questions by citing his rights accorded to him by the 5th Amendment.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Shkreli refused to testify Thursday in an appearance before U.S. lawmakers while appearing to smirk throughout. Moreover, shortly after the session, derogatory tweets were published under his official Twitter account, in one of which, the lawmakers were labeled as “imbeciles.” The authenticity of the tweets haven’t been verified, but the Twitter account does have the blue seal of approval indicating the account was verified.
He seemed to mock the proceedings and added the following.
“I had prior counsel produce a memo on facial expressions during congressional testimony if anyone wants to see it. Interesting precedence.”
Martin Shkreli was asked to appear before House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer why his company raised the price of a lifesaving medicine by 5,000 percent.
However, despite repeated attempts to invoke any response from him, Shkreli exercised his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. His well-rehearsed response to most of the questions was as follows.
“On the advice of counsel I invoke my 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.”
The lawmakers, including Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, couldn’t help getting aggravated by the standard responses and refusal to answer even the most basic of questions. He flatly asked 32-year-old Shkreli to wipe the smirk off his face.
“I call this money blood money… coming out of the pockets of hardworking Americans. I know you are smiling, but I am very serious, sir. I truly believe you can become a force of tremendous good. All I ask is that you reflect on it. No, I don’t ask, I beg that you reflect on it.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) shouted down a request by Shkreli’s attorney to speak. Lawmakers, instead, took turns denouncing his conduct and attitude, reported the Los Angeles Times.
After the tweets started appearing that clearly seemed to mock the procedure, the review system and the committee in general, Cummings was beside himself with anger. Asking Turing executive Nancy Retzlaff to interpret the messages on Shkreli’s Twitter account, he said.
“There are very real issues for people with compromised immune systems.”
Cummings was referring to the Daraprim medication, the price of which was increased by 5,000 percent by Martin Shkreli. Daraprim, which cost just $7.50 a pill, had its price shoot up to $750. The seemingly unethical behavior by Shkreli has earned him many nicknames including “Pharma’s Bad Boy,” “Pharmabro,” etc. Needless to say, the price hike sparked outrage last year among patients, medical societies and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. The 62-year-old Daraprim had been a critical drug for people suffering from HIV/AIDS. It is one of the primary medications.
After the price of Daraprim was raised to $750 a pill, many companies began selling the active ingredient in the popular drug at a much lesser price than the original sticker price. Some companies even started selling equivalent drugs with the active ingredient in Daraprim for just a dollar, just to allow people to get their medication without burning a hole in their already-depleted pockets.
Martin Shkreli’s behavior even got U.S. senator from Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders worked up, who posted multiple tweets.
Surprisingly, Martin Shkreli had a response ready.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]