Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing on the company’s drug pricing policy.
Martin Shkreli invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination, but sniggered through questions from representatives.
Congress is investigating Turing’s 5,000% price increase of Daraprim, a drug used by many AIDS patients.
Martin Shkreli asked Congress for immunity last month in return for his testimony.
The Federal Trade Commission is also investigating whether Turing violated anti-trust laws when it raised the price of Daraprim.
Turing purchased the patent to Daraprim for $50 million in July 2015, but the company and its former CEO rose to public attention in August when price of a single dose jumped from $13.50 to $750.
Politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton criticized Turing for the increase. Hillary Clinton called Turing’s move “outrageous” and called it “price gouging”.
In response, Martin Shkreli said the media and politicians did not understand the pharmaceutical industry.
The industry’s main lobbying group, PhRMA, also spoke out against Turing’s actions. In a statement PhRMA said that Turing “does not represent the values of PhRMA member companies”.
Other members of the pharmaceutical industry, including the head of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, were also asked to testify.
Valeant increased the price of Isuprel, a drug used to treat slow heart rate by 500% and Nitropress used to treat hypertension by 200%.
After the hearing Martin Shkreli’s attorney told reporters that his client, a former hedge fund manager, was a “brilliant scientist who had saved many lives.”
Martin Shkreli who is active on social media had already tweeted he would not answer questions.
Before the hearing, Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings called Martin Shkreli’s decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination a “juvenile tactic”.
At the hearing, Representative Elijah Cummings said: “You can go down as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives, or you can change the system.”
After the hearing, Martin Shkreli returned to Twitter to call the members of Congress “imbeciles”.
Turing’s chief commercial officer Nancy Retzlaff did answer Congress’s questions.
Nancy Retzlaff told the House hearing that Turing acquired Daraprim because it was “priced far below its market value” and that the company planned to invest the profits from the price hike into research and development of new treatments.
Martin Shkreli stepped down as Turing CEO in December 2015 following his arrest on separate charges.
The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission have charged Martin Sjkreli with defrauding investors at a company he previously ran and a hedge fund he managed.
Ex-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli has asked for immunity in order to testify before a congressional hearing.
Martin Shkreli was subpoenaed to testify about a 5,000% price increase for a drug.
His lawyer asked for immunity because of an ongoing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the price rise, Reuters reported.
Martin Shkreli stepped down as Turing’s head following his arrest for investor fraud at a different company.
In a letter seen by Reuters, Martin Shkreli’s lawyer said the former CEO would “gladly cooperate” and produce documents at the hearing on January 26 if he is given immunity.
On January 21, Martin Shkreli said he would remain silent if forced to appear at the congressional hearing.
The FTC is allegedly investigating anti-trust violation by Turing Pharmaceuticals when it raised the price of Daraprim.
The drug is used to treat toxoplasmosis, an infection common in people with AIDS.
Daraprim was invented in the 1950s and acquired by Turing for $50 million in 2015. In August, Turing increased Daraprim’s price from $13.50 to $750 per dose.
In December, Martin Shkreli was arrested in New York on charges he defrauded investors as the head of drug company Retrophin and as a fund manager at the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management.
He has denied the charges and was released on bail pending the trial.
Members of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee have argued Martin Shkreli cannot invoke his right against self-incrimination because his arrest is separate from the congressional investigations.
They have responded angrily to Martin Shkreli’s attempts to avoid testifying.
On January 21, Congressman Elijah Cummings, a committee member, said: “If he plans on trying to use his own intentional inaction as some kind of bogus excuse for not showing up at Tuesday’s hearing, people will see right through such a juvenile tactic.”
Martin Shkreli has mocked the subpoena on social media by tweeting a picture of the letter sent by the Oversight Committee with the comment: “Found this letter. Looks important.”