Congress Subpoenas Martin Shkreli to Come Explain Drug Pricing
Martin Shkreli — the ex-CEO infamous for hiking the price of an existing anti-parasitic medication called Daraprim used in the treatment of AIDS from $13.50 to $750 — has just been called before Congress next week, according to BloombergBusiness. The legislators want Shkreli to talk to them them about pharmaceutical pricing.
On January 26, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is convening a hearing on “developments in the prescription drug market.” At issue is the upward repricing of decades-old pharmaceuticals by companies who purchase the rights to sell them, the way that Shkreli did with Daraprim. With the cost of developing the drugs having long ago been absorbed, and their acquisition prices generally relatively low, there seems little justification for substantially increasing their prices. Congress is getting involved because price increases have the affect of limiting access to the medications by making them less affordable to the people who need them.
The oversight panel has requested pricing documentation from a small group of companies, including Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company Shkreli ran before resigning after the outcry over Daraprim’s price hike and after unrelated securities-fraud charges were brought against him in December.
Shkreli hasn’t yet committed to making an appearance before the oversight panel, treating the summons in the same flip manner with which he responded to criticism Daraprim’s new price, and which has so infuriated his detractors. He tweeted a picture of the summons with the caption, “Found this letter. Looks important,” and coyly asked his Twitter followers if he should attend.
According to Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the Congressional panel’s top Democrat, “I have been trying for the better part of a year to get information from Martin Shkreli about his outrageous price increases, and he has obstructed our investigation at every turn. He claims publicly that he wants to explain to Congress how drug pricing works. On Tuesday, he will get his chance.”