All who saw the testimony of Martin Shkreli before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were left to wonder: What was he thinking? The answer seems to be, he wasn’t.
Shkreli is the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which he headed after making big money running a hedge fund. At 32, he’s brash, cocky and apparently not much for respecting even members of Congress. He’s the fellow who raised the price of a drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. It’s the only approved drug for a rare and deadly parasitic infection.
Congress is investigating inflated prices in the drug industry and wanted to talk to Shkreli. He didn’t want to talk, taking the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination, and proceeded to smirk throughout his relatively brief appearance. Then he tweeted, calling the members of the committee “imbeciles.” Big talk from a guy already in trouble on securities fraud charges unrelated to the drug issue.
Shkreli did the drug industry no favors. His testimony is liable to get Congress even more interested in the high prices of drugs, which dramatically ramp up health care costs even for those with insurance, and certainly complicate care for those covered under the Affordable Care Act. It’s also likely to cause members of the public to let their representatives know they expect a magnifying glass on the drug industry followed by tough regulatory action.