Despite his dismissive tweets in answer to a subpoena, House Oversight and Government Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said he expects notorious pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli to testify on Capitol Hill on Thursday in arguably the most-hyped hearing so far in 2016.
The House Oversight and Government Committee hearing, titled “Developments in the Prescription Drug Market,” was rescheduled from Jan. 26 due to Winter Storm Jonas clean-up in Washington.
Shkreli is the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, LLC, which is being investigated for raising drug prices. Under his management, Turing raised the price of the drug Daraprim to $750 a tablet from $13.50.
In December, Shkreli was arrested in December on securities fraud charges and freed on a $5 million bond.
On Jan. 22, he tweeted at Chaffetz and ranking member, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., “You want me to go to DC to to just say 'I plead the 5th?' For your entertainment?” The day before he tweeted, “I received a letter from the government explaining why I, a NYC-born citizen of the USA, can't use the 5th amendment. Anyone want to see it?”
The last time the Fifth Amendment was pleaded by a major public figure at a congressional hearing was when former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Lois Lerner asserted her right to not testify in March 2014 and May 2013 while being questioned about IRS audits of conservative groups. In the May hearing, she delivered an opening statement, promoting her innocence, then pleaded the Fifth.
Others who recently took that route are General Services Administration official Jeff Neely in 2012, U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona official Patrick Cunningham in 2012, former Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison in 2011 and White House party crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi in 2010.
In 2007, Justice Department official Monica Goodling exercised this right, as well as professional baseball player Mark McGwire in 2005, lobbyist Jack Abramoff in 2004 and former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay in 2002.
Also scheduled to testify on Thursday is Turing’s chief operating officer, Nancy Retzlaff, representatives from other pharmaceutical companies, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc., and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, as well as Janet Woodcock, who directs the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
On Jan. 28, Shkreli tweeted at presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about a Health and Human Services report on drug prices. Only three months ago, Clinton faced hours of testimony in a very public hearing herself.