Martin Shkreli could not stop laughing during his testimony to Congress

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Martin Shkreli Invokes Fifth Amendment

The interim chief executive of pharmaceutical company Valeant and infamous former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli just faced Congress.

Legislators wanted them to answer for dramatic drug price increases that impact the lives of Americans.

SEE ALSO: Job cuts surged 218% in January

Shkreli infamously caught national attention when his company purchased a life-saving drug called Daraprim and then raised the price over 5,000%.

Wall Street was closely watching Valeant interim CEO Howard Schiller.

The company's stock was a darling until accusations of malfeasance from a short seller and government scrutiny over pricing chopped off a quarter of its stock price last year.

Not a few bad apples

At the hearing, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) opened by saying that "it's not funny, people are dying" because drug companies "jacked up" prices.

"These tactics are not limited to a few 'bad apples.' They are prominent throughout the entire industry. Lannett, Pfizer, Horizon, Teva, Amphastar, Allergan, Endo—all of these companies have taken significant price increases on their drugs," he said.

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Martin Shkreli could not stop laughing during his testimony to Congress
Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli, right, huddles with his attorney Benjamin Brafman on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, following his appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee. Shkreli refused to testify before U.S. lawmakers who excoriated him over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Benjamin Brafman, right, attorney for pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli, foreground, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on rising drug prices. Shkreli refused to testify before U.S. lawmakers who excoriated him over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli waits on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, for the start of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on his former company's decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. Shkreli refused to testify before U.S. lawmakers who excoriated him over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli waits on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, for the start of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on his former company's decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. Shkreli refused to testify before U.S. lawmakers who excoriated him over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, center, listens as his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, left, speaks to reporters as they leave court in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Shkreli, who has become the poster child of pharmaceutical-industry greed after hiking the price of an anti-infection drug by more than 5,000 percent, is scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing on Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Martin Shkreli, chief investment officer of MSMB Capital Management, sits for a photograph in his office in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. MSMB made an unsolicited $378 million takeover bid for Amag Pharmaceuticals Inc. and said it will fire the drugmaker's top management if successful. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images ***Local Caption ** Martin Shkreli
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, file photo, Martin Shkreli, center, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents in New York after being taken into custody following a securities probe. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said a lawyer for Shkreli indicated he has not sought permission from a New York judge to appear at a congressional hearing Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, on drug prices, despite receiving a subpoena. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)
Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and ratcheting up the price of a life-saving drug, is belted into an awaiting car after being taken into custody following a securities probe, on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 in New York. A seven-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court Thursday charged Shkreli with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Martin Shkreli, center, leaves the courthouse after his arraignment in New York, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager vilified in nearly every corner of America for buying a pharmaceutical company and jacking up the price of a life-saving drug more than fiftyfold, was arrested Thursday on securities fraud charges unrelated to the furor. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Martin Shkreli, chief investment officer of MSMB Capital Management, sits behind a chess board in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. MSMB made an unsolicited $378 million takeover bid for Amag Pharmaceuticals Inc. and said it will fire the drugmaker's top management if successful. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images ***Local Caption ** Martin Shkreli
Martin Shkreli, chief investment officer of MSMB Capital Management, works on a computer in his office in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. MSMB made an unsolicited $378 million takeover bid for Amag Pharmaceuticals Inc. and said it will fire the drugmaker's top management if successful. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images ***Local Caption ** Martin Shkreli
"THEY SEE ME ROLLING..." http://t.co/D1mDBEeZMq
Turing Pharma Puppy Party 2015 http://t.co/0xf1zKUYXy
Activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, during a protest highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing. Turing Pharmaceuticals sparked an angry backlash last month after it raised the price of Daraprim, the only approved treatment for a rare, life-threatening parasitic infection, by more than 5,000 percent. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, file photo, carrying an image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in a makeshift cat litter pan, AIDS activists and others are asked to leave the lobby of 1177 6th Ave. in New York, during a protest highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing. A Senate committee tasked with protecting seniors launched an investigation Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, into drug price hikes by Turing, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin Inc. and Rodelis Therapeutics, responding to public anxiety over rising prices for critical medicines. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)
Activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, during a protest highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing. Turing Pharmaceuticals sparked an angry backlash last month after it raised the price of Daraprim, the only approved treatment for a rare, life-threatening parasitic infection, by more than 5,000 percent. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, during a protest highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing. Turing Pharmaceuticals sparked an angry backlash last month after it raised the price of Daraprim, the only approved treatment for a rare, life-threatening parasitic infection, by more than 5,000 percent. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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He also submitted letters from the American Federation of Teachers, Human Rights Campaign, Consumer Union and more, voicing their concern about drug pricing practices. Cummings also discussed regulation against "price gouging."

After Cummings spoke, Valeant interim CEO Howard Schiller took the hot seat. Schiller's prepared remarks are here.

He has a few points:

  • Valeant paid outside consultant to determine price.
  • Valeant passes costs onto hospitals, not patients, and actually lowers costs for patients through its assistance programs.
  • The FDA should speed up the approval process for generic drugs.

And then there's this interesting point [emphasis ours]:

"When these drugs are priced to reflect more closely their true clinical value, the more accurate price signals incentivize generic competition and innovation. Higher prices draw generic competitors into the market, which in turn tends to put significant downward pressure on prices," he said.

Shkreli

Shkreli, as expected, plead the fifth and seemed to suppress laughter during his testimony. Shkreli's chief commercial officer, also testified.

He was asked if he had done anything wrong, and was asked about comments he'd made in the past.

Congressman Trey Gowdy tried to tell Shkreli that there were answers he could give that would not subject him to incrimination, and that they could talk about something else. That included his Wu Tang Clan album.

"Is that the name of the group?", he asked.

"I intend to follow the advice of my council, and not yours," Shkreli responded.

Shkreli continued to look away and smile. At points it looked like he was about to burst out laughing.

"You can look away if you like, but you should see the faces of the people you effect," said Cummings. "You are known as one of the bad boys of pharma."

There are "so many people that could use your help."

Cummings ended by telling Shrekli "God bless you," and asking him to be escorted out.

Outside of Congress, Shkreli's lawyer said that his client had been unfairly singled out. Eventually, he said, people would come to realize that Shkreli is "not a villain, but a hero."

NOW WATCH: Disgraced pharma CEO Martin Shkreli dissed a Wu-Tang Clan member in a hostile video

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