Martin Shkreli invokes Fifth Amendment five times during drug price hearing

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Feb. 4, 2016 at 12:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right all but three times Thursday during a House Oversight Committee hearing on drug prices.

Shkreli was subpoenaed to appear before the committee as he faces criminal charges over securities fraud. He continuously chose not to answer questions.

In August, Turing acquired Daraprim, which was first developed in 1953, and the company immediately increased the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 -- a 4,000 percent increase.

"On the advise of counsel, I will not be giving an opening statement," Shkreli began Thursday, day after his lawyer in the securities case advised him to "stop talking."

"I want to ask you a few questions," House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said to Shkreli. "What do you say to that single, pregnant woman who might have AIDS, no income, that she needs Daraprim in order to survive. What do you say to her when she has to make that choice? What do you say to her?"

"On the advise of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question," Shkreli replied.

Chaffetz asked two follow-up question, including "Do you think you've done anything wrong?"

Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right again. Chaffetz then yielded his time to Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who had a simple question.

"Is it pronounced 'Shrkeli'?" Gowdy asked.

"Yes, sir," Shkreli replied.

"See there? You can answer some questions. That one didn't incriminate you," Gowdy said. "I just want to make sure you understand you are welcome to answer questions and not all of your answers are going to subject you to incrimination. You understand that don't you?"

"I intend to follow the advise of my counsel, not yours," Shrkeli said, which he then repeated after Gowdy made a follow-up remark.

The second time Shkreli directly answered a question was when Rep. Elijah Cummings was delivering prepared remarks urging Shrkeli to help the committee improve the system in which drug companies operate.

"Are you listening?" Cummings asked.

"Yes," Shrkeli said, before Cummings finished his statement.

"Mr. Shkreli, it's your intention to decline all answers to the questions and invoke your Fifth Amendment Right?" Chaffetz asked.

"Yes," Shrkeli replied. Chaffetz then ordered the witness to be excused.

In December, Shkreli, 32, was arrested in relation to a firm he founded in 2011, unrelated to the price hike he instituted for Daraprim. Prosecutors allege he illegally took stock from his biotechnology firm, Retrophin Inc., and used that to pay debts from unrelated business dealings.

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