'Pharma bro' Shkreli responds to a subpoena with sarcastic tweets

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

Martin Shkreli leaves the courthouse after his arraignment in December. Photo / AP
Martin Shkreli leaves the courthouse after his arraignment in December. Photo / AP

Just when it seemed like the Martin Shkreli show might be winding down - its provocateur protagonist accused of a Ponzi-like scheme and dethroned from the drug companies that thrust him into the national spotlight - he jumped back to center stage, humble as ever.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform confirmed Wednesday that it would hold a hearing next week focused on high drug prices, featuring Shkreli at the top of the roster.

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Shkreli, if you have somehow forgotten, is the former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals who rose to infamy for hiking the price of Daraprim, a pill that fights a rare infection in people with compromised immune systems, from $13.50 to $750.

He then stayed in the spotlight by buying another company and threatening to raise the price of another old drug and buying a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album.

The 32-year-old former hedge fund manager proceeded to respond in what might be the most Shkreli-possible manner: by tweet-taunting a member of Congress, calling the House efforts "whining" and comparing the hearing to "chit chat."



As if that weren't enough, he followed up with photographic evidence that he had been legally summoned to Washington.

The photo of the subpoena came with a sarcastic caption: "Found this letter. Looks important."



Shkreli obviously isn't afraid of ruffling feathers. Even after it was clear that hiking the price of Daraprim by more than $700 had basically made him less popular than the Dentist Who Killed Cecil, he still said his major mistake was not raising the price higher. But his audacity in responding to federal subpoenas with such casual disregard is still a little surprising.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday that Shkreli had invoked the Fifth Amendment to decline to answer a subpoena for documents from the Senate Special Committee on Aging. She questioned the justification and said the move could "hinder our investigation."

Shkreli took to Twitter to respond, asserting his constitutional rights and inserting a gratuitous barb: "No wonder trust in the U.S. Government is at a low."



Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who co-chairs the House Committee on Oversight sent out a statement explaining that Shkreli's attorney had weighed in on whether Shkreli would appear.

Shkreli has been out and isn't allowed to leave New York as a condition of his bail from a criminal case stemming from allegations of securities fraud. His attorney told the House committee he had not asked the court to allow his travel to Washington to testify at the hearing on Tuesday.

"Mr. Shkreli was subpoenaed to appear before Congress, and it is his responsibility to take reasonable steps to comply. If he plans on trying to use his own intentional inaction as some kind of bogus excuse for not showing up at Tuesday's hearing, people will see right through such a juvenile tactic," Cummings said in a statement.

Shkreli's attorney did not immediately respond to messages from The Post. But his client didn't mince words on Twitter.



What could possibly be next in this unfolding drama?

Cummings' statement holds a threat at the bottom, including that Shkreli might be held in contempt of Congress, receive jail time and financial penalties. Now, it's Shkreli's move.

- Washington Post

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