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Pharma boss Martin Shkreli smirks through Congress hearing; blasts members as ‘imbeciles’

Pharma boss Martin Shkreli smirks through Congress hearing; blasts members as ‘imbeciles’

Martin Shkreli is aware of his own punchable face

Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals appeared before Congress yesterday as part of a hearing into drug pricing. Turning is the company that hiked up the price of a drug commonly used by those suffering from HIV-related toxoplasmosis from $13.50 a pill to £750 a pill.

Shkreli, who was dubbed ‘the most hated man in America’ after he hiked the price of Daraprim last September and defiantly defended the decision in a serious of interviews, faced hostile questioning from Congress members.

However, although he couldn’t resist smirking and sniggering at the barrage of criticism he received, he declined to offer any verbal defense; instead repeatedly reading from a prepared statement and citing the Fifth Amendment, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

His attitude did not go down well with Congress members.

‘Drug company executives are lining their pockets at the expense of some of the most vulnerable families in our nation,’ said US Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D-Maryland). ‘It’s not funny, Mr. Shkreli. People are dying and they’re getting sicker and sicker.’

In a development unrelated to yesterday’s hearing, Shkreli was arrested in December by Federal agents and charged with illegally taking stock from Retrophin Inc., a drug firm he launched in 2011, and using it pay off debts from unrelated business dealings. Shkreli was ousted by Retrophin in 2014 and later sued by its board.

He went on to launch Turing Pharmaceuticals and made international headlines in September when he hiked up the price of the drug Daraprim by 5,000%. He stepped down as the Turing’s CEO in December following his federal arrest.

The Congress hearing took place to examine the price increases in the pharmaceutical industry and Shkreli agreed to give testimony last month on the condition that Congress would grant him immunity.

However, he indicated in advance of yesterday’s hearing that he planned not to answer questions, saying on social media, ‘I’m not going to say anything other than the 5th Amendment. They just want this to be a circus.’

Maryland Rep. Cummings called the decision not to answer a ‘juvenile tactic’, reports the BBC.

After the hearing, Shkreli’s recently-appointed counsel, Ben Brafman attempted to defend his client’s character and demeanor to reporters, saying, ‘Mr Shkreli’s not a villain – he is not a bad boy. He is a hero… dedicated to saving lives,’ reported The Guardian.

‘Mr Shkreli did not intend to show any disrespect … what you saw was nervous energy.’

Shortly after the hearing, an unrepentant Shkreli returned to Twitter to criticize those questioning him. He said, ‘Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.’


Bloomberg Business posted the highlights of Shkreli’s Congress appearance on its YouTube channel – watch below.