U.S. lawmakers unlikely to get answers from ex-drug executive Shkreli

Thu Feb 4, 2016 4:36am EST
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By David Ingram and Sarah N. Lynch

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Martin Shkreli, the former drug executive who raised the price of a lifesaving medicine by 5,000 percent, is set to appear as a witness at a congressional hearing on Thursday but is unlikely to answer lawmakers' questions about price spikes.

Shkreli, 32, sparked outrage last year among patients, medical societies and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton after his company Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of 62-year-old Daraprim to $750 a pill from $13.50.

The medicine, used to treat a parasitic infection, once sold for $1 a pill.

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to hold a hearing on drug prices at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), with Shkreli and others from the pharmaceutical industry as witnesses.

For weeks, Shkreli battled with lawmakers. He insisted that if called to appear, he would invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and remain silent. Lawmakers said his testimony was essential to investigating why drug prices had risen and that if he chose not to answer questions, he must do so in person.

Shkreli's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, repeated on Wednesday that Shkreli would not answer questions. Speaking to reporters after a court hearing, Brafman said the reason was the unrelated criminal charges that Shkreli defrauded investors.

In December, Shkreli was arrested and charged with running his investment funds and companies almost like a Ponzi scheme. He has pleaded not guilty, stepped down from Turing and was fired from KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc KBIOQ.PK. He is also a former head of Retrophin Inc (RTRX.O: Quote), which sued him, alleging mismanagement.

The Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general are investigating Turing for possible antitrust violations.   Continued...

Former drug executive Martin Shkreli (C) exits with his lawyer Benjamin Brafman (L) the U.S. Federal Courthouse in the Brooklyn borough of New York February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid