Martin Shkreli, former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, exercised his fifth amendment right during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing. Exercising the fifth amendment allows for those under oath to avoid self-incrimination. The members of the House Committee were not pleased.
Shkreli, on the other hand sat through the hearing, smiling, fidgiting with items in front of him and repeating his right to exercise his fifth amendment right in response to each question. A Florida Republican asked if Shkreli could be held in contempt of Congress, but the Committee chairman said no. After being excused from the hearing Shkreli took to Twitter a posted a tweet on the incompetence of American lawmakers:
Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016
According to The Washington Post, the drug scandal began when Shkreli’s company bought the rights to a life-saving medication and increased the price by 5,000 percent. According to Shkreli’s companies, those that have increased the price of older drugs, they have done so to make the drugs more profitable and have compensated patients who need the drugs. Turing Pharmaceuticals has claimed to have provided financial support to patients and paid the co-pays of some of the people who need the medications. According to the drug companies the cost of the drugs is ultimately paid for by hospitals that buy them and not by the consumers.
The New York Times reports hospitals that purchased the drugs were reimbursed for some of the costs. The pharmaceutical companies realized that they could raise the cost of the drugs without hurting the patients who need them and still make a profit. But now, one of the companies, Valeant, has realized that it might have been too bold in its price increases and has frozen the prices of some of its drugs.
This practice will lead to higher insurance premiums.
According to The New York Times the president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Associate testified at the hearing and said that while the pharmaceutical companies were engaging in co-payment assistance programs which allowed patients access to more expensive drugs, the insurance companies have been left to pay for those expensive drugs. This practice will lead to higher insurance premiums.
Shkreli maintains his innocence of any wrong doing and has invited Congress to debate the issue through his Twitter account:
New webcast. Looking for a debate. Congress welcome. https://t.co/lpHlG8i5Oj
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 5, 2016