(WASHINGTON) — Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who raised the price of an anti-parasitic drug fiftyfold, pleaded the fifth before the House Oversight Committee, refusing to answer lawmakers’ questions at a hearing on drug pricing.
As lawmakers blasted him for raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent, the former pharmaceutical executive rolled his eyes, smiled and even appeared to doodle.
Shkreli, who was subpoenaed to appear at the hearing by the committee, tweeted moments after leaving the Capitol:
Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016
As CEO of Turing, Shkreli presided over the purchase of Daraprim, an established drug used to treat parasitic infections. The drug’s price was exponentially raised overnight. He stepped down from that post in December after his arrest on securities fraud charges.
“What do you say to that single pregnant woman who might have AIDS, no income and she needs Daraprim in order to survive?” asked Republican Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who called Shkreli’s actions “despicable.”
“Do you think you’ve done anything wrong?” he asked.
Shkreli, “on advice of counsel,” invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
When told he could choose to answer some questions and not others, Shkreli told Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., “I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours.”
House lawmakers accused Turing — along with Valeant Pharmaceuticals — of raising drug prices in search of profit. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the panel, released a series of e-mails from both companies Tuesday, saying they illustrated how the drug price increases were profit-minded from the the start, despite the company’s public comments.
Shkreli was dismissed from the hearing after 50 minutes. Shkreli’s attorney told reporters his client was misunderstood and did not intend to disrespect the panel.
“When all of the facts about Daraprim and Turing are ultimately disclosed, I think everyone will recognize that Mr. Shkreli is not a villain. He’s not the bad boy. I think at the end of this story that he is a hero,” attorney Benjamin Brafman said.
Moments later, the 32-year-old took to Twitter to blast lawmakers as he departed Capitol Hill.
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