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The FTC is investigating Martin Shkreli's previous company for jacking up drug prices

The FTC is investigating Martin Shkreli's previous company for jacking up drug prices

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Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company previously headed by infamous "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli, is being investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission for possible antitrust violations after it jacked up the price of an AIDS drug by 5,500 percent. Under Shkreli's leadership, Turing increased the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill in September last year, shortly after acquiring the rights to the medication. Despite widespread criticism for the price hike, Shkreli said that if he could do it again, he "probably would have raised the price higher."

News of the investigation was revealed in a letter from Shkreli's lawyer to the US House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which had subpoenaed Shkreli to appear at a hearing about developments in the prescription drug market on January 26th. The former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and KaloBios was arrested on fraud charges late last year, and in the letter, his lawyer argues that asking Shkreli to discuss the raising of drug prices would breach his constitutional right not to incriminate himself.

Shkreli lawyer says his client could incriminate himself

Baruch Weiss, the lawyer who sent the letter, said that his client would "gladly co-operate" with the committee, but only if he was able to secure immunity, noting that any such deal would not be hammered out before the date of the hearing anyway. If Shkreli were to appear, Weiss said, the details he could provide may very well sink his fraud case — the "same facts that would support liability under civil antitrust violations would support criminal antitrust charges," he writes. Shkreli's lawyers have also tried to get him out of an appearance by asking the congressional subpoena to be blocked on the grounds that under his current travel restrictions, he's not allowed to leave New York state.

But despite these arguments, Representative Jason Chaffetz — the committee's chair — said that his panel "rejects the notion that Mr. Shkreli is unable to comply with the subpoena," and that it would seek criminal charges if the ex-CEO doesn't appear. "We honestly have no idea what he will do on Tuesday," committee member Elijah Cummings said about Shkreli, "but his problems are going from bad to worse very quickly."