Reviled pharma exec would decline congressional questioning

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2016 5:55 PM
Reviled pharma exec would decline congressional questioning

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, reviled for hiking the price of a life-saving drug, would decline to answer questions if forced to appear before Congress, according to correspondence with lawmakers.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has subpoenaed Shkreli to appear at a hearing on exorbitant drug pricing next Tuesday. But the 32-year-old's lawyer informed the committee that his client plans to remain silent, invoking his Fifth Amendment right, according to a letter from committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Shkreli became the public face of pharmaceutical-industry greed last fall, after hiking the price of a 60-year-old drug for a rare infection by 5,000 percent.

Last month, the former hedge-fund manager was indicted on securities fraud charges stemming from an earlier, unrelated drug company. He has pleaded not guilty and was released on $5 million bail. He subsequently resigned as Turing CEO.

Questions emerged Thursday about whether Shkreli would even attend the hearing, in spite of the congressional subpoena.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said Shkreli has apparently not made any legal arrangements to travel to Washington, based on conversations with his attorney.

Under the terms of his bail, Shkreli is required to remain in New York state. However, a judge could grant an exception to travel.

"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," Cummings said in statement.

Shkreli, a relentless self-promoter who often livestreams his daily life, has repeatedly bashed Cummings and other politicians through social media.

In a Twitter message Thursday directed at the lawmaker, Shkreli wrote: "Your attempt to subvert my constitutional right to the 5th amendment are disgusting and insulting to all Americans."

A day earlier he posted a photo of the subpoena with the caption, "Found this letter. Looks important."

The committee is also scheduled to hear testimony from current Turing executives and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, another drugmaker besieged by criticism about drug pricing.

Shkreli has also drawn the ire of Senate lawmakers.

On Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Shkreli had refused to turn over documents sought in a Dec. 24 subpoena from her Special Committee on Aging. There too, Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, citing the criminal case in New York.