lawmakers unlikely to get answers from ex-drug executive
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[February 04, 2016]
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
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
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. He is also a former head of Retrophin
Inc, which sued him, alleging mismanagement.
The Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general are
investigating Turing for possible antitrust violations.
Other expected witnesses on Thursday include Turing Chief Commercial
Officer Nancy Retzlaff and Valeant Pharmaceuticals interim Chief
Executive Howard Schiller.
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Retzlaff said in written testimony released by the committee that
Turing discounted the price of Daraprim to hospitals by 50 percent
in November after consulting with patient groups. She added that
Turing reinvests much of its income in research and had 13 projects
in its pipeline as of December.
Schiller said in written testimony that Valeant has tried to keep
drugs affordable through volume-based rebates and a partnership with
He also wrote that patients were best served when prices reflected
the market: "When these drugs are priced to reflect more closely
their true clinical value, the more accurate price signals
incentivize generic competition and innovation."
(Reporting by David Ingram in New York and Sarah N. Lynch in
Washington; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond and Caroline Humer
in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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