Martin Shkreli could not stop laughing during his testimony to Congress

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
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, departs after a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Martin Shkreli, chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, center, and attorney Evan Greebel, left, exit federal court in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. Shkreli was arrested on alleged securities fraud related to Retrophin Inc., a biotech firm he founded in 2011. Greebel is accused of conspiring with Shkreli in part of the scheme. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Shkreli, chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, exits federal court in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. Shkreli was arrested on alleged securities fraud related to Retrophin Inc., a biotech firm he founded in 2011. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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
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
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 (L), former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, arrives for a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, departs following a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Martin Shkreli (C), former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, arrives for a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Martin Shkreli (C), former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, arrives at a U.S. Federal Court in New York, U.S., June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Former drug executive Martin Shkreli exits the U.S. Federal Courthouse in the Brooklyn borough of New York February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Martin Shkreli (top, R), former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, arrives before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on "Developments in the Prescription Drug Market Oversight" on Capitol Hill in Washington February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, right, exits federal court with his attorney Benjamin Brafman in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Shkreli is accused of engineering separate frauds tied to his control of two hedge funds he ran as well as�Retrophin Inc., a pharmaceutical company he founded in 2011. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Shkreli (C), chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc, departs U.S. Federal Court after an arraignment following his being charged in a federal indictment filed in Brooklyn relating to his management of hedge fund MSMB Capital Management and biopharmaceutical company Retrophin Inc. in New York December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Bloomberg Best of the Year 2016: Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, reacts during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, smiles during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. 'On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,' Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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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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