UPDATE 4-Smirking Shkreli refuses lawmakers' questions, calls them 'imbeciles'

Thu Feb 4, 2016 4:38pm EST
 
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(Adds detail from hearing and legal expert quote)

By Sarah N. Lynch and David Ingram

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK Feb 4 (Reuters) - Former drug executive Martin Shkreli smirked and brushed off questions about drug prices then tweeted that lawmakers were imbeciles on Thursday, when he appeared at a U.S. congressional hearing against his will.

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 the drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent to $750 a pill.

The lifesaving medicine, used to treat a parasitic infection, once sold for $1 a pill and has been on the market for more than 60 years.

At a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Shkreli repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says no person shall be compelled in any criminal case "to be a witness against himself."

Wearing a sport jacket and collared shirt rather than his usual T-shirt, he responded to questions by laughing, twirling a pencil and yawning.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, asked Shkreli what he would tell a single, pregnant woman with AIDS who needed Daraprim to survive, and whether he thought he had done anything wrong. Shkreli declined to answer.

"I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours," said Shkreli after South Carolina Republican Representative Trey Gowdy suggested he could answer questions that were unrelated to pending fraud charges against him.   Continued...