Over the past three months, Martin Shkreli rarely passed up an opportunity to speak out, regularly mocking his critics or justifying a 5000%-plus price hike on a 62-year-old generic. He took to television, Twitter and a live stream online to repeatedly defend his position, claim he was planning to lower the price of Daraprim, renege on the promise and declare his innocence after being charged with multiple counts of securities fraud.
But when it comes to Senate and House probes into the price hike, Shkreli is repeatedly taking the 5th--on Twitter, anyway.
Members of a House committee that subpoenaed his attendance for a hearing next week believe that Shkreli is purposefully dragging his feet on getting the court permission needed to travel outside of New York following his recent indictment, ready to shrug off the demand performance. Reuters reported Thursday afternoon that Shkreli's attorneys had sent a letter outlining his plans to remain silent at the House session, while the Wall Street Journal asserts that Shkreli is looking for guarantees that nothing he says can be used by prosecutors. And U.S. Senator Susan Collins from Maine tweeted Wednesday evening that Shkreli is invoking his rights guarding him from self-incrimination, refusing to hand over documents her committee had subpoenaed for their probe into drug pricing.
Collins has a problem with Shkreli's position.
"Counsel informed our Committee that Mr. Shkreli was categorically invoking the 'Act of Production Privilege' under the Fifth Amendment," Collins tweeted. "Absent a valid justification for the grounds for invoking the Fifth Amendment, Mr. Shkreli's assertion could hinder our investigation."
An outraged Shkreli responded on Twitter: "I have valid justification. Are you serious? I have constitutional rights. No wonder trust in the US Government is at a low."
Shkreli was equally outraged by a statement Thursday from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which noted that the biotech exec hasn't asked a judge in his federal securities case to give him permission to travel to Washington DC for an appearance next week.
"Mr. Shkreli was subpoenaed to appear before Congress, and it is his responsibility to take reasonable steps to comply," noted ranking member Elijah Cummings. "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. I hope he reconsiders his current course and avoids any additional legal action against him."
"Your attempt to subvert my constitutional right to the 5th amendment are (sic) disgusting & insulting to all Americans," the boy-faced Shkreli tweeted back in response.
About a week before Christmas, the FBI descended on Shkreli's Manhattan apartment to bust him on charges that he had executed a "securities fraud trifecta of lies, deceit and greed" while operating a defunct hedge fund as well as Retrophin ($RTRX), a biotech company he had founded and was subsequently booted from. He then went on to start Turing, where he bought Daraprim and jacked up the price from $13.50 a pill to $750.
The resulting controversy ignited an online hate fest centered on a greedy pharma industry and Shkreli, which he managed to stoke by repeatedly jeering at anyone who questioned his actions. He was replaced as CEO of Turing and he was booted from KaloBios ($KBIO), another biotech he had claimed he wanted to save from going out of business. Arrested and charged on a federal indictment, he recently went back on television to once again declare his innocence.
The Senate and House investigations, though, have nothing to do with the indictment. Whatever else Shkreli may have done, no one has questioned his legal right to hike the price. But for now, Shkreli's stonewalling investigators who want to see more of the details about how he went about the move. He's also reportedly bringing in a new legal team to represent him in the federal case.
As always, Shkreli remains defiant in the face of authority, or anyone else who questions his motives.
Industry Voices: Martin Shkreli, biopharma's 21st century robber baron