BUSINESS

Martin Shkreli, Price-Gouging Pharma CEO, Refuses To Answer To ‘Imbecile' Congress

02/04/2016 11:41 EST

Martin Shkreli, the indicted former pharma CEO who raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,400 per cent last year, refused to answer questions in front of a congressional committee on Thursday morning, taking the Fifth Amendment on his lawyers' advice.

But Shkreli followed up his appearance in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with a tweet referring to congresspeople in a very pointed way.

Shkreli faced a barrage of criticism from House representatives over Turing Pharmaceuticals’ decision last year to raise the price of Daraprim by some 5,400 per cent. Daraprim is a drug used in the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a lethal parasitic disease. Turing later relented, offering a 50-per-cent discount on the new price that still amounted to roughly a 2,700-per-cent price increase over the original price.

The price hike led to no small amount of public outrage at the time.

“I call this money blood money ... coming out of the pockets of hardworking Americans,'' Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings told Shkreli Thursday morning.

Shkreli appeared to be enjoying his moment in the limelight. Business Insider reports that the 32-year-old appeared to be suppressing laughter during his appearance in front of the committee.

Outside of the hearings afterwards, Shkreli’s lawyer told reporters his client had been unfairly singled out. People would eventually realize Shkreli is a “hero,” Business Insider quoted the lawyer as saying.

Shkreli resigned as chief executive of Turing, and was fired from his job running another pharma, KaloBios, in December, when he was arrested in New York and charged with securities fraud and conspiracy, relating to another company he ran.

Prosecutors allege Shkreli looted a pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, for $11 million in order to pay back angry clients at MSMB Capital, whose money he had lost in bad trades. He faces a possible 20 years in federal prison.

Shkreli has said he was unfairly targeted by prosecutors because of his decision to hike the price of Daraprim.

— With a file from The Associated Press