Our Opinion: Cracking down on the drug CEOs

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Martin Shkreli, the smirking face behind outrageous hikes in prescription drug prices, declined to speak before a House committee Thursday, but his actions speak volumes.

The founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who left the company after being indicted on federal securities fraud charges, infuriated members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by repeatedly exercising his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. He later referred to committee members as "imbeciles" on Twitter, and while the House is justifiably unpopular, its cause here is a worthy one.

Turing infamously bought the rights to the infection drug Daraprim and raised its price fiftyfold to $750 a pill. Valeant Pharmaceutical acquired two heart drugs and raised their prices by 200 and 500 percent. Valeant chief executive Howard B. Schiller did speak to the committee and rationalized that the additional money would come from hospitals, not patients.

Obviously, bankrupting hospitals will raise medical costs and hurt patients. The other rationale is that insurers will cover these shameful drug prices, but they of course will pass on costs to the insured.

Congress must allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which Republicans oppose, and give the FDA the resources to more quickly test and approve cheaper generics. It must also institute penalties against the greedy, cynical drug CEOs of the world.


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